Defensively, the Steelers young players such as Stephon Tuitt, Ryan Shazier and Bud Dupree are only getting better, and the addition of cornerback Joe Haden, who was released by the Browns, can’t hurt.
While on paper, McDonald does not seem like a high profile acquisition, his numbers must be viewed with a grain of salt. He’s one of only two National Football League players with more than 100 pass breakups since 2010 and, in the 13 games he played in, he has recorded a 78.6 passing rating against. Haden has spent most of his career covering opposing No. 1 receivers. McDonald, however, offers speed and a vertical threat from the tight end position, something that James, a possession receiver, can not offer. The sight had to make the stomachs turn of some Browns fans. It will make contract extensions they are trying to finish this year more hard, but they could use more depth at cornerback. The fifth-round pick out of Utah only started playing cornerback full-time last season and has been described as a project by the team since the moments following his selection.
The Browns open the season at home against Pittsburgh on September 10. Haden named the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins as three teams that made offers. The secondary has always been an issue for Pittsburgh, but has been an area the team has been unsuccessful in addressing in the draft. The Steelers play their final preseason game at Carolina on Thursday.
Artie Burns showed real potential during his rookie year in 2016, and Ross Cockrell held his own as a starter. It was a cost-cutting move for the Browns, as Haden was due to be paid $11.1 million of his five-year, $67.5 million extension he signed with Cleveland back in 2014. After two more solid years, Haden proceeded to make his first Pro Bowl during his fourth season after registering 54 total tackles, four picks, 20 pass defenses and one defensive touchdown. The Browns then sought a trade but ultimately released Haden when they found no partner, a source said.
Well, blending with new team-mates, Hadden will prove himself in the next match on September 10 as the Le’Veon Bell is onboard with the Steelers.