The Browns want to lock up one of the best corners in the game. The question, as always: How much will it take?
How much money will Joe Haden make with a new Cleveland Browns contract extension? The easy, lazy, and most obvious answer: a lot. Joe Haden, when it’s all said and done, is going to make a ton of cash. That doesn’t really answer the question though. This is the NFL and contracts are confusing to say the least. Haden is a top-tier talent that’s still coming into his own and he’s only going to be 25 years old when the upcoming NFL season begins. How can you even begin to figure out what he’s worth? I’m not sure just yet, but let’s look at some examples.
The first place anyone will want to go when talking about Haden is Tampa Bay’s Darrelle Revis. Revis has been the gold standard NFL corner for years now. Haden hasn’t ever been regarded quite to the level of Revis at his best, but he’s also three years younger. Revis is also a guy who has been through holdouts and one major injury – an ACL tear in the 2012 season. Revis is so good that following his injury, he still found himself signing a 6-year $96 million deal, but it’s a weird one. The deal has basically no guaranteed money and Revis plays year-to-year for $13 million in base salary. It’s such a unique deal that it shouldn’t be relevant to the Joe Haden discussion.
Originally when I decided to discuss this topic, I wanted to talk about Paul Kruger’s deal with the Browns just in order to set a baseline of sorts for the Haden deal. Prior to Joe Banner being removed from his post atop the Cleveland Browns, I might have been able to use this deal to use as evidence of structure or style. But now, a largely irrelevant deal feels even less relevant. Kruger’s deal was five-years, $41 million with about $20 million guaranteed.
Getting more specific about the cornerback position, I think other than Revis, it’s reasonable to assume that Joe Haden will be in that range of highest paid corners in the entire NFL. That puts him in a position to get easily into the $10 million per year range, but the questions abound regarding the length of the deal and the overall value and most importantly the guaranteed portion.
Using Spotrac.com’s numbers, you start to get a picture. From an overall contract value standpoint, Revis sits on his own island – pun intended – with his $96 million value. After that, the Cowboys’ Brandon Carr, the Rams’ Cortland Finnegan, the Ravens’ Lardarius Webb and the Chiefs’ Brandon Flowers are all basically $50-million contract players. Regardless of specifics, you know Haden’s team of representatives is going to want to beat all those gaudy numbers in the press release. You have to assume that Haden is going to be five years or more, and easily over that $50 million mark, a well-earned mark compared to the $6 million he stands to make this coming season.
In summary, I don’t have a specific guess, but I think Joe Haden will eclipse the $10 million per year barrier. I think he could be in the $12 million per year range. He will, upon signing, be the highest paid player on the Browns, knocking fellow Pro Bowler Joe Thomas from the top of the spreadsheet. The only question is if he’ll also beat Thomas for the most guaranteed money as Thomas’ rich extension guaranteed him $28.5 million.
It’s going to be a whole new world for Joe Haden. It’s a whole new world for Browns fans too as we get to know Ray Farmer and the rest of his personnel team over the next year. Maybe then, we’ll be able to better predict which guys the Browns will keep and how they will plan to do so in order to build a financially competitive team as well as one that hopefully wins on the field. These are really important details today when the Browns have tons of financial flexibility. These things go in cycles, and that’s not always going to be the case.
Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY