The Cleveland Browns have a young, exciting team that has a sprinkling of more expensive veterans littered throughout the different position groups. Not all expensive veterans are created equal though as cornerback Joe Haden is paid as if he were a star even as his performance has not lived up anywhere near that billing.
As such, it should not be a complete surprise when CBS Sport’s Jason LaCanfora reports that the Browns are aggressively seeking to trade the 28 year old ahead of the looming NFL cut date next week.
Hearing from multiple teams that the Browns are aggressively trying to trade CB Joe Haden. Very motivated to move his contract
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 29, 2017
With Jamar Taylor, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, and Jason McCourty appearing to be the best three cornerbacks during the Browns preseason, Haden’s spot on the roster was tenuous due to his older age and expensive contract.
The Browns have a $14.4 million cap hit in 2017 if they keep him on the roster, while paying him $11.2 million in cash for the 2017 season. The difference in those numbers being the $3.2 million pro-rated signing bonus number. If the Browns decided to cut Haden after the season, they would then have $3.2 million dead cap number on the 2018 books.
If the Browns were to cut Haden when they go to the 53-man rosters, then they would hold a $10.8 million cap hit for a savings of $3.6 million in 2017 and being off the hook for 2018. The team would also save $11.1 million in cash ($100,000 has already been paid as a workout bonus).
If the Browns were to trade Haden instead though, then they would hold only a $6.8 million cap hit for a savings of $7.6 million in 2017 and still be off the hook for 2018. They would also save that same $11.1 million in cash.
The additional $4 million in 2017 cap savings matters despite no actual additional cash savings because over the cap rollover in the current NFL CBA. It would be $4 million additional dollars the Browns could spend on next year’s payroll, which might end up being important.
Therefore, it makes a ton of sense for the Browns to aggressively pursue a trade for a player who might be the fourth best cornerback on their team despite Haden being a beloved member of the Cleveland community.
The problem will be finding another team willing to pay him $11.1 million in 2017 even though he has no guaranteed money left (or cap hit) after this season for any team acquiring him.
A big thanks to the Over The Cap Calculator application for helping provide the contract details for this column.