Joe Haden said he had a handful of suitors after the Cleveland Browns cut him this week. The two-time Pro Bowl selection said Thursday night he chose the Pittsburgh Steelers because they gave him the best chance to finally get to a postseason game after seven NFL seasons.
"We had Oakland, the Cowboys and New Orleans then Miami. Those were the other ones," Haden told reporters when asked about other teams interested. "It just felt like a fit for me. Coach (Mike) Tomlin, ever since the pro day when he came out to Florida and was talking to us. He worked us all out, that was cool. Then every time we play against the Steelers I talk to coach Tomlin -- every time. They were super interested in me and I just felt like once I was free I wanted to have a chance to be able to play in some meaningful games. I know they don't really miss the playoffs so I'm like, I just want to be a part of something where I could play in the playoffs."
The Steelers' super interest earned Haden a three-year $27 million contract, including $7 million guaranteed this year.
Haden said his familiarity with the Steelers after playing against them every year of his career made the decision easy.
"Definitely. I have my guys, Marcus Gilbert, (Maurkice) Pouncey and then AB (Antonio Brown) these are some really, really cool dudes," Haden said. "I've met them a couple of times, probably at Pro Bowls and have just seen them around. A good group of dudes and I just wanted to ... this just feels like it's going to be something special."
Haden added that he was "surprised" to be cut by the Browns, who shed his $11 million contract after no team was willing to take on the deal in a trade.
The 28-year-old cornerback's play has slipped precipitously from his Pro Bowl seasons of 2013 and 2014, and his health has become an issue. For the corner-needy Steelers, however, it's an addition they believe can put them over the top.
"Obviously, I have a great deal of respect for Joe Haden, the reason why we acquired him," Tomlin said Thursday. "He is a top-notch player and a top-notch guy. I have known him for a long time. I interviewed him the night before his Pro Day, that's the same Pro Day that Maurkice Pouncey was at some years ago. We are thankful to have him. We will start the process of assimilating him into what we do, matter of fact that has already started. Needless to say, because we acquired him, we are comfortable with what we have seen."