BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Joe Haden harbors no ill-will towards the Cleveland Browns following his release a week ago.
It’s just the business of the NFL.
“I wasn’t angry,” Haden said via conference call Wednesday afternoon. “It is just the business of the game. It sucks with the relationships that I had there with everybody in the entire building. It felt like family because I was with them for so long. It sucks, but like I keep saying, the business part of it is real. It happens.”
Haden traded in his orange and brown for black and gold after signing a 3-year, $27 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers hours following his release.
Selected seventh overall in the 2010 draft out of Florida, it took Haden little time to embrace becoming a Clevelander and even though he’s now playing for Pittsburgh, Haden doesn’t plan to completely abandon The Land.
“I’m still going to be in Cleveland,” Haden said. “I still have my store there. I’m not going to close my store. I have reasons to still be up there. I have a lot of friends that I have up there so Cleveland is still going to be a spot that I come to. For sure will be at the playoff games because the Cavs are still my favorite team. That won’t change anything, but I will be in Pittsburgh.”
Haden’s wife and son are in Cleveland and he has family in Maryland so Pittsburgh falls in the middle for him.
Last week the Browns tried to get Haden, who missed 14 games over the last 2 seasons due to injury and was coming off surgery in January to repair 2 torn groin muscles, to restructure the final 3 years and $32.5 million left on his contract but he declined.
He conceded that injury, salary and performance all led to his departure.
“It was just a business decision that they made that the salary wasn’t matching up to my last two years of production,” Haden said. “That is really how they felt so they decided that they wanted to cut my salary.”
After he said thanks but no thanks, the Browns released him and the Steelers pounced.
“I definitely feel as if I still have it,” Haden said. “No hard feelings with anybody, but I feel like I’m the best corner in the division.”
Haden now expects Browns head coach Hue Jackson and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to test him Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“I expect every time I am lined up out there that they might throw the ball to me,” Haden said. “I’m going to be locked in. I’m going to be ready to go and be ready to make some plays.”
After spending 7 years in Cleveland where the Browns went a combined 29-83, Haden has his sights on finally making the playoffs with the Steelers who have missed them just twice since he’s been in the league.
Haden hopes to follow in similar footsteps that saftey T.J. Ward, the Browns’ second-round selection after Haden in 2010, did. Ward went on to win a Super Bowl after signing with the Denver Broncos.
“I was just looking forward to trying to get to the playoffs, trying to spread my career to play where I haven’t played,” Haden said. “With them, I knew the opportunity was going to be there. It had really nothing to do playing against the Browns twice a year.”