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Roethlisberger lobbied for Steelers to sign “Top 5 CB” Joe Haden

When the Cleveland Browns decided to release veteran cornerback and fan favorite Joe Haden, many members of the Dawg Pound expressed their gratitude for what Haden brought to the city of Cleveland, both on and off the field, and the way he loved Cleveland and their sports teams. Just hours later, it was announced that the cornerback was going to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns’ biggest rival.

While the 28-year-old could be ring chasing given that the Steelers are one of the top teams in the NFL, it’s hard for Cleveland fans to see the fan favorite dart for that team. Why did he decide to sign with Pittsburgh so quickly? One of the main reasons was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who lobbied for his team to sign the cornerback. During a weekly interview on 93.7 The Fan, the quarterback opened up about the process that took place in bringing Haden in.

Here’s what he had to say, per’s Dave Bryan:

“Lot of respect for him,” Roethlisberger said of Haden. “I was excited about that pickup. I know that when he got released I was talking to Coach [Tomlin]. I was saying, ‘hey, listen, can we get this guy?’ Let’s find a way because he, for a long time, was a guy that we looked at as at worst-case, five, maybe a top-three cornerback in the league. A guy that we respect a lot to make a lot of plays. Was smart, just a really good football player. I know he was dinged-up the last couple of years, but even dinged-up, he’s traveled with A.B. [Antonio Brown] and we always knew where he was.”

Haden has struggled mightily over the last two seasons, but it could be blamed on the number of injuries that he has tried to fight through. Having played in just 18 games since the start of the 2015 season, the cornerback has a chance to prove that he can still be the player he once was, one that was considered one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Roethlisberger seems to think that a change in scenery may rejuvenate Haden.

“I think and hope that when he comes here and he takes the orange off and puts the black and gold on, I think that’s going to rejuvenate him and get him ready to go,” he said. “I know he’s excited and I’m excited to have him on our side because I think that he’ll bring a big-play guy. And I hope that, and I know it’s a little later in his career than when James Farrior got here, but I’m hoping that he kind of brings a James Farrior-rejuvenation and has a career like James did when he was here.”

Obviously, considering the cornerback was with the Browns so long and practiced all training camp with Cleveland’s new defensive staff, there are things that Haden knows about the Browns defense that no one else does. Roethlisberger admitted that he will use that to his advantage as much as he can.

“Yeah, we’ve talked to him,” Roethlisberger said. “We anticipate them doing that with Sammie Coates. I’ve talked to Joe a little bit. It’s not like I’m going to be able to sit there and look at the sideline and look at their hand signals. You can’t do that. I’ve got to focus on what they line up and how they do things. But for me talking to Joe, it’s more about personality-guys. What kind of player is this guy? Is this guy very aware? Does he get moved with a pump fake? Does this guy like to jump routes? It’s just more personnel things and personalities more than anything.”

Along with Roethlisberger, star wide receiver Antonio Brown also lobbied for the Steelers to sign Haden. The two not only share the same agent in Drew Rosenhaus, but Haden has also been known to be one of the handful of cornerbacks who could somewhat slow down Brown.1

Haden may never be the cornerback he once was, but the Steelers were in dire need of another starting defensive back and they decided to take a chance on Haden. If the cornerback becomes anything that he once was, it was quite a pickup for Pittsburgh and one that could haunt the Browns for the foreseeable future.

The Steelers will travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns in the season opener on Sunday, with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET.

  1. Eight receptions for 76 yards and zero touchdowns in the 2016 game is considered slowing Brown down relative to his other games. Haden did not play in either game against the Steelers in 2015 when Brown had 23 receptions for 326 yards and three touchdowns. []

  • MartyDaVille

    I’m sorry Joe, but you’re just not good enough to play for the Cleveland Browns.

    And why shouldn’t he go to Pittsburgh? Out of loyalty to the city that kicked him to the curb? And I wouldn’t call this ring-chasing.

    Finally, if Haden is as bad as the Browns think he is, Kizer should go after him every time he’s in there.

  • tigersbrowns2

    since Haden is now donning a Steelers jersey , best case scenario for me on Sunday is Kizer going deep to Coates , over Haden , for the game winning TD.

  • mgbode

    I get the angle you are going for, but I’d still rather it be Corey Coleman.

  • Eric G

    I will always love Joe. I hate that he went to Pittsburgh, but IF (God forbid) they do go all the way, I’ll be happy for him, and him alone. That being said, I’m glad I won’t be at the game this week. In the slightest of chances that he plays well, and *gulp* gets an INT, I don’t want to have to make the instantaneous moral decision to boo him or cheer for him.

  • Eric G

    This is true. I would not mind one bit seeing him get burned on a double move, a normalcy to which we’ve all become so accustomed with our good friend Joe.

  • Chris

    Top 5 CB? For most teams, sure.

  • Pat Leonard

    He would have received more money to play elsewhere, so how is this not ring chasing? He chose the Steelers because he loves Iron City beer? (This is obviously a joke, nobody loves Iron City beer)

  • MartyDaVille

    Maybe he likes cole slaw on his sandwiches.

    Going to the Patriots is ring chasing. Everywhere else is a crapshoot.

  • Pat Leonard

    I don’t agree with that… can only go to the Patriots if the Patriots want you. I would call a player taking less to play with the Cavs a ring chaser even though the Warriors are clearly the best team in the league and the best bet to win a championship.

  • MartyDaVille

    But he’s not going to a “superteam” with a “Big Three” or “Big Nine” or whatever. He’s going to a decent team that is predicted to do well, but one that is certainly not a lock for the conference title.

  • Pat Leonard

    That’s just perspective. I think most analysts see the Steelers as clearly the 2nd best team in the AFC and a legit challenger to the Patriots (if there is one). They have a big three in football terms of “triplets” – Roethlisberger, Brown, and Bell. I’ll also add this, with the parity in the NFL, you don’t have a team like the 2017 Patriots most seasons. It’s pretty rare to have a team you could put in that strata.

  • MartyDaVille

    I just think we shouldn’t assign motives to people, because (1) we really don’t know and (2) time and time again we will be proven wrong. People don’t necessarily do the things they do for the reasons we think they do.

  • Pat Leonard

    I just don’t like the narrative “you’re not good enough to play for the Browns, but you’re good enough for the Steelers? How absurd.” I think it’s a reasonable thing to say that this is actually true based off of last year’s performances. The Steelers are really hurting for help at cornerback and the Browns (at this point in time) are not.

  • MartyDaVille

    Well, Pat, we shall see.

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