The Cleveland Browns on Tuesday released veteran cornerback Joe Haden. It was a move that surprised many, and, according to reports from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, comes after a year of Cleveland trying to trade the two-time Pro Bowl defensive back. With no substantial offers coming, the Browns cut Haden, eating $7.2 million in dead money in 2017 with another $3.2 million next year, according to Dawgs By Nature’s Chris Pokorny.
In seven seasons with the Browns, Haden recorded 370 tackles, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, 100 passes defensed, and 19 interceptions with one touchdown. He was selected to the 2013 and 2014 Pro Bowls, but has missed 18 games the last two seasons due to injuries. Reports this summer have indicated Haden has been practicing well and looks healthy, but the Browns have decided they want to get younger at the position, and are moving on from their 2010 first-round draft pick.
Should the Miami Dolphins jump in on the sweepstakes to try to land Haden, who is free to sign with any team as of 4pm ET today?
Will the chase end up with someone offering Haden more money than the Dolphins would be willing to pay?
Interestingly, according to Rapoport, the Browns still owe Haden a guaranteed $4 million, with offsets included in his contract. Basically, Haden could sign for the league minimum with a new team, but still make his $4 million as the Browns will pay him the difference between his new salary and that mark. Anything over $4 million will make the new team responsible for the full amount. That could lead to Haden receiving a smaller salary than he may otherwise have demanded.
The Dolphins came into the summer deep at the cornerback position, but injuries and questions have started to surface. Third-year cornerback Tony Lippett has been lost for the year with an Achilles tear. Seventh-year veteran Byron Maxwell, in his second season with the Dolphins, has struggled with consistency this summer, especially noticeable against his former team the Philadelphia Eagles last week when they continually targeted him throughout the game. The Dolphins suddenly look like a team that could use cornerback help, and Haden suddenly being available could be a surprise upgrade to the position.
There are a lot of “ifs” involved with the idea of bringing in Haden. Miami should try to add him - if - he is healthy. He could be a starter - if - he has not lost as step. The Dolphins should add him - if - his contract demands are not too great. Haden is not a sure bet for the Dolphins, or any team, but he could be a good fit - if - everything else is answered correctly.
Dolphins fans are not the only ones interested in Haden linking up with Miami, returning to the state where he played college football at the University of Florida. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, teammates with Haden at Florida, posted to Instagram a picture of the cornerback:
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh immediately reposted the same picture, adding the response, “Yeah....South Beach.”
Several teams have already been linked to the Haden chase, with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints both seen as early front runners. The Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys are also seen as possible suitors. The Dolphins should get themselves into the fray, seeing what it would take to land Haden.
The Dolphins may have to make some salary cap space if they go after Haden. The team is reported to have $8.9 million in salary cap space as of Wednesday, according to the NFL Players Association’s public cap report, so they would have the space to make a deal happen, but they would also like to see some of that money roll over to 2018, making a cap savings move likely. That could come in the form of Maxwell, who would create $5.5 million in cap savings this year if he were released, with $3 million in dead money. Maxwell sees his cap numbers jump to $10 million in 2018 and 2019, then $11 million in 2020, so this could be his final season with the Dolphins - at least on this current contract - so adding Haden and releasing Maxwell does make some sense.
The Dolphins could also look to keep Maxwell, - if - Haden is starting caliber at this point, using Maxwell as the third outside cornerback, sliding him into the role they envisioned for Lippett.
Haden makes sense for the Dolphins, who have question marks at cornerback, provided he is healthy and not looking to break the bank. They need to jump into the chase for Haden and see what the sense of a return to the Sunshine State would be for the cornerback. They need to be prepared to jump out if the money gets too crazy, but there is no reason the Dolphins should not enter the chase.
Should the Dolphins enter the Joe Haden chase?
This poll is closed