We got the news early Saturday afternoon that Steelers corner Joe Haden has tested positive for the Covid 19 virus.  https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2021/01/02/Steelers-cornerback-Joe-Haden-tests-positive-for-COVID-19/stories/202101020025  This means he will miss tomorrow’s game against the Cleveland Browns.  What’s even worse is Haden will most likely miss the Pittsburgh’s opening playoff game as well.  The question now is, have we seen Joe Haden’s last game in a Steeler’s uniform?

The Playoffs:

NFL protocols say a player who has a positive test must quarantine for ten days.  That almost certainly puts Joe Haden out of the Steelers first playoff game.  Barring something crazy, that opening game will be against the rival Baltimore Ravens.  Baltimore is on a four game winning streak, and should easily make it five with an upcoming home game against the Bengals on Sunday.

As we all know every Steelers/Ravens game seems to be a close, hard fought affair.  The Steelers have needed every available player to help slow down the potent Ravens run game.  Facing them without the likes of Haden, Dupree, Spillane, and Bush on defense would seem to be a tall task.  Add to that how poorly this offense has played in recent weeks, and there is plenty to be concerned about with this matchup.  It wouldn’t shock anyone if the Ravens were able to pull an upset in this game.

The 2021 season:

The Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap situation in 2021 is not good.  Steelers 2021 salary cap is a disaster

Kevin Colbert will be faced with some extremely tough decisions heading into next season.  One of those decisions will be whether or not to carry a thirty two year old corner with a $16 million cap hit.  The Steelers could save close to $13 million by cutting their veteran corner back.  Saving that amount of money may prove too tempting to pass up for the Steelers general manager.

The Skinny:

Of course none of this is a done deal.  There is still good reason to think the Steelers can make a long playoff run this season.  Anything past week one of the post season should be enough to get Joe Haden back on the field.

Haden may also prove to valuable to cut next season as well.  There is little depth behind him, especially considering Cam Sutton will be one of the many impending free agents the team will have trouble resigning.

In the end though, if we had to put odds on Joe Haden ever playing another snap for the Steelers it would have to be below fifty percent.  The harsh reality is this team is not playing well heading into the playoffs.  A one and done scenario is not out of the realm of possibility with the injuries on defense, and the team’s sputtering offense.  It’s also very likely the Steelers will indeed cut Haden and put its full attention on signing the younger and cheaper Cam Sutton.  

The Joe Haden signing was among the best moves Kevin Colbert made in his time running the Steelers.  Unfortunately, time is winding down on the that signing.  Joe Haden may not make it back this season, and is almost certainly gone next year.