Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joe Haden to play out final year of contract, test free-agent market in 2022

PITTSBURGH -- Cornerback Joe Haden is guaranteed to play the 2021 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After that, though, the Pro Bowl corner will hit the free market, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Wednesday morning.

Haden, who approached the team about a contract extension last month, has decided to play out his contract and test the free-agent market in 2022, when the salary cap is expected to increase significantly, Rosenhaus told Schefter.

"Joe has never been a UFA before and is excited about that opportunity," Rosenhaus said. "We expect him to have a very strong market."

Haden, 32, signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Steelers as a free agent in 2017 a day after he was surprisingly released by the Browns.

In 2019, Haden signed a two-year, $22 million extension that takes him through the 2021 season. He previously expressed a desire to finish his career in Pittsburgh, through Rosenhaus and in conversations with the media.

"Obviously want to stay here," Haden said briefly on Aug. 23. "Just the organization, the staff, coaches, Coach T [Mike Tomlin]. I don't have too much more. But I want to be here."

In four seasons with the Steelers, Haden has been a steadying force in the secondary with 10 interceptions, 48 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles in 56 starts. He earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2019 after racking up five interceptions.

Although Haden has been immeasurably valuable at corner, the Steelers have other big-ticket contracts on the horizon that likely made paying Haden a tough sell. Pro Bowl edge rusher T.J. Watt is set for a big payday any day, and the Steelers will also likely sign All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to a new deal in the near future after exercising his fifth-year option earlier this year.