The Cleveland Browns are attempting to move their (former) Pro Bowl corner; does it make sense for the Titans to trade for Joe Haden?
It has been reported by multiple sources that the Cleveland Browns are “aggressively” trying to trade Joe Haden. While he has struggled the past couple of years, Haden was one of the best cornerbacks in the league from 2010-2015. With the Tennessee Titans still having some questions at cornerback, would it make sense for them to trade for Haden?
Why They Should Trade for Haden
The preseason is not an accurate predictor of the regular season, but the Titans certainly haven’t solidified the cornerback position. Rookie Adoree Jackson and second-year players LeShaun Sims and Kalan Reed have all shown promise, and the future looks bright. But for a team like the Titans with playoff aspirations, that is putting a lot of stock in younger players. Haden wouldn’t have to have play every down, but adding a veteran cornerback to the group could help ease the transition of these younger players into starting roles. There is also the chance that Haden’s struggles were solely attributed to nagging injuries, and that he can have a bounce-back season if healthy. If Haden could get close to what he used to be, he and Logan Ryan would make a solid cornerback pairing.
The Titans could also take a page out of the Browns book and take on the contract in exchange for a pick. Cleveland did exactly that when they traded a 4th round pick and received a 2nd round pick and Brock Osweiler, along with his massive contract. The haul for Haden wouldn’t be as large, but his big contract is certainly why the Browns are being “aggressive” in pursuing a trade. With the Browns commanding a stockpile of draft picks, maybe the Titans could receive a pick for absorbing his contract? According to Sportrac, the Browns would absorb the dead cap from 2018 (in a post 6/1 trade), which could make it easy to move on from Haden in the future.
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The Argument Against Trading for Haden
It is very hard to overlook just how badly Haden has struggled the past couple of years. Again, injuries certainly played a factor, but how can the Titans know that injury trend won’t continue? The team trading a player always has the most information regarding injuries, so the Titans should be wary of something the Browns know that the public does not.
Adding a veteran cornerback at the expense of cap space would also be contradictory of what the Titans did in releasing Jason McCourty this offseason (who subsequently signed with the Browns). Haden doesn’t figure into their long term plans, so is it worth it to pay so much just for a season or two?
A possible trade depends on three factors: 1) are the Titans willing to absorb Haden’s large contract, 2) what they would give/receive in the trade, and 3) how confident the Titans are in their young corners. I have no problem absorbing Haden’s contract this year, but I am not Amy Strunk and it’s not my money. But, outside of the Patriots and maybe the Steelers, the AFC is pretty wide open. It would make sense to be aggressive and try to take advantage of this window of opportunity.
If the trade does result in a net positive pick swap (ex: Titans get a 4th and give up a 6th), then it makes even more sense. If the Browns are asking for more, like a straight-up trade for a mid-round pick, I’d stay away. It would be interesting to know what the Browns are expecting in return for Haden.
Taking a gamble on Haden being healthy and returning to form, and the influence he could have on the young corners, might be worth it at the right price. But my gut tells me the Titans won’t be able to find a price point that justifies the pay day, and that Haden is traded somewhere with a more desperate CB situation.