Cleveland’s relationship with Joe Haden has been interesting the past couple of years.
The longtime Brown and beloved cornerback signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers just one day after the Browns cut him in 2017.
He spent the last five seasons with the black and gold but could now be looking for a new home in free agency.
That destination might be right back in northeast Ohio as Haden hinted at in an Instagram post.
Free-agent CB Joe Haden posted this on social media, does that mean he's thinking of returning to his former team, the Browns? pic.twitter.com/IQXvIjfjAJ
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 23, 2022
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) June 23, 2022
Is a reunion between Haden and the Browns possible?
Would it even make sense for either side?
Past His Prime
Father time remains undefeated.
That won’t ever change despite guys like Tom Brady putting up one heck of a fight.
For Haden, the clock is ticking toward the end of his playing days.
At age 33, his best football is behind him.
This article from behindthesteelcurtain.com does an excellent job showing clips of Haden’s limitations as a corner last year.
Matchups against true number one receivers are something Haden should avoid at this point.
Trying to contain Bengals receiver Jamarr Chase did not go well for him last season as seen the clip below.
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2021
However, there’s still some playmaking left in the former Florida Gator.
He saved a win for Pittsburgh last season with a crucial tackle on fourth down to knock off Tennessee.
JOE HADEN WITH THE CLUTCH TACKLE
BALLGAME 🙌 pic.twitter.com/fj8slQUHTK
— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) December 19, 2021
This pick-six against Baltimore in 2020 isn’t a play you’ll see often from Haden anymore.
However, he’s still a very smart player and can make a play on the ball by jumping routes.
RG3 throws a pick-six to Joe Haden 😬
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 2, 2020
These routes have been beating the Steelers defense a lot this preseason.
Joe Haden steps on the field and solves it.
Also, if that ball is on target it's an interception. Perfectly timed by Haden. pic.twitter.com/cSCX9HXV1l
— Geoffrey Benedict (@phantaskippy) August 22, 2021
It’s unfair to ask Haden to be a lockdown number one corner at this stage of his career.
Cleveland wouldn’t be looking to put him in that role if they do make a move to bring him back.
Depth, Depth, and more Depth
One of the best luxuries in the NFL is a deep depth chart.
Coaches love being able to plug and play guys in place of starters when they need breathers or are facing injury.
If Haden returns to Cleveland on a new contract, he’d have a plethora of talent next to him at the corner position.
Denzel Ward is solidified as the star of the secondary with second-year man Greg Newsome II looking to take a leap in 2022.
Greedy Williams is good when healthy, and expectations are there for rookie third-round selection Martin Emerson Jr.
Playing time could come at a premium if he returns to Cleveland.
Still, the Browns’ secondary is a group that has dealt with plenty of injuries in recent seasons.
Bringing in Haden to help fortify that unit may not be a bad idea for general manager Andrew Berry.
Mentoring the Youth
The top guys in Cleveland’s secondary are all young.
Someone like Greedy Williams, who has struggled at times and shined in others, could benefit greatly from sharing a locker room with Haden.
Despite his best years being behind him, his knowledge of the game is still greatly beneficial to any team that has it.
How Would Fans Feel?
Haden went from a fan favorite to playing with the most hated team among Browns fans.
If he’s wearing brown and orange in 2022, most of that fan love would return.
I’m sure there’d be some jeering here and there, but ultimately fans will come to love those that wear their team’s jersey regardless of context.
Plus, it’s not like he’d be returning in some prominent role where he’d be heavily criticized.
How would you feel about a Joe Haden reunion in Cleveland?
Let us know in the comments below!