BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Too expensive and too-often injured, Joe Haden is no longer part of Cleveland’s long-term plans.
The two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, who had gone from being one of the city’s most popular players to polarizing, was released on Wednesday after the team couldn’t trade him or convince him to take a pay cut.
“We want to thank Joe for all he has done for this organization both on and off the field,” said executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown. “He has been a great teammate and a true asset to the Cleveland community. These are very difficult decisions, we have the utmost respect for Joe and in my eyes, he will always be a Cleveland Brown.”
A first-round pick in 2010, Haden has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons and the Browns felt he was no longer one of their top defensive backs.
Cleveland, which is in need of a wide receiver, had shopped Haden but couldn’t find a partner, mostly because he’ll make $11.1 million this season and has two more seasons left on a five-year, $67.5 million extension — $45 million guaranteed — he signed in 2014.
Despite Haden’s slip in production, coach Hue Jackson said Tuesday that he felt Haden had played well this summer.
Not well enough to keep him around, however.
“Joe gave everything he had for the Cleveland Browns and that’s all you can ask for as a coach,” Jackson said in a statement. “He was a leader on and off the field. I wish him all the best as he continues his career.”
Haden played in just 18 games the past two seasons because of injuries, fighting to stay on the field each week last season despite a serious groin injury that required offseason surgery.
New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his staff didn’t view Haden as an asset and will likely move veteran Jason McCourty into his starting spot alongside Jamar Taylor.
A former Florida standout, Haden was one of Cleveland’s most popular and visible players. He often attended Cavaliers games and sat courtside to cheer on LeBron James and his teammates.
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