Mr. Cleveland can get even more comfortable.
Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden signed a five-year extension with the Browns on Tuesday that will keep him under contract through 2019. The extension is worth $68 million, with a $14 million signing bonus, $22 million fully guaranteed and another $23 million guaranteed for injury.
Haden, who endeared himself to Cleveland fans by embracing the city and attending Cavaliers and Indians games in full uniform, was set to enter the last year of his rookie contract this season. He and the Browns had been discussing an extension for months, and the front office overhaul didn’t prevent it from getting done.
“This is a great day for both Joe Haden and the Cleveland Browns,” general manager Ray Farmer, who was promoted to the job in February, said in the news release announcing the move. “Joe’s a good, young player who’s made a commitment to our organization, and he’s somebody with whom we want to move forward in order to advance our football team.
“He’s a great person. He’s the right guy to both build with and build around as we attempt to become an elite football team. He’s a true professional. When we talk about identifying talent, building through the draft, developing solid players and retaining them, Joe Haden’s at the top of the list. I’m excited. Our team is excited.”
Haden (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) was the No. 7 pick in the 2010 draft. He has played in 57 games with 48 starts — then-coach Eric Mangini didn’t start him immediately as a rookie — totaling 13 interceptions, 68 passes defensed, 263 tackles, three forced fumbles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
He was voted to his first Pro Bowl last season and was named second-team All-Pro. He had four interceptions — returning one 29 yards for the first defensive touchdown of his career — 21 passes defensed and 60 tackles, according to the coaches’ film review.
Haden got off to a great start last year, shutting down a series of No. 1 receivers. He gave up a few touchdowns in the last six games but still rated among the best in the league.
According to STATS LLC, his 20 passes defensed in 2013 tied for third in the NFL and his 67 since joining the Browns are second. Haden’s 1.19 passes defensed per game is the second-highest average among NFL players with 50-plus breakups since at least 1994.
“It’s important for us to extend our core players and continue to grow with guys that represent everything we want this team to be: tough, hard-working and passionate,” coach Mike Pettine said. “Joe obviously loves his teammates, and he loves this city.
“I know he wants to keep growing and improving as a player. That’s what we need, and that’s what we want. These are the types of players we want to build around, that will help us grow and win consistently.”
Haden talked about the contract talks earlier this month during minicamp.
“I like it here. I want to start winning here,” Haden said. “I embrace the city. I like the city. The fans, they like me here and I just think I started here and I want to finish here. In Cleveland, if we can start winning here, there would be statues and everything. I’m like ‘why go somewhere else?’”
Good teams keep their good players. The Browns haven’t been a good team since 2007, but they’re starting to keep their good players.
Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas is under contract through 2018. Pro Bowl center Alex Mack was retained after the Browns used the transition tag to allow them to match the deal he signed with Jacksonville. Now Haden.
Next on the list for possible extensions are tight end Jordan Cameron, who signed with a new agency Tuesday, and outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard.
Haden’s extension pays him an average of $13.6 million per year, surpassing Thomas as the highest-paid Brown. The deal comes on the heels of Seattle superstar cornerback Richard Sherman signing a four-year, $58.8 million contract last week that included $40 million guaranteed.
“We value Joe tremendously,” owner Jimmy Haslam said Monday during a speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club. “He’s a great player and a great person.”
The last week has been filled with ups and downs for Browns fans. The Browns drafted cornerback Justin Gilbert — who will be paired with and learn from Haden — and quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round Thursday, then Friday news broke that All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon could face an indefinite suspension after another failed drug test. The Haden news is a nice rebound.
The Browns have locked up their lockdown cornerback.