If the Pittsburgh Steelers lose Joe Haden this offeason, they could look at former rivals as replacements.
This offseason is an important one for the Pittsburgh Steelers, considering they have to find quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s successor. Besides that, the Steelers may be in the market for a starting cornerback, as Joe Haden is an unrestricted free agent.
While there is always a possibility that the organization can try to re-sign Haden, you can never rule out another team swooping in to secure him for their roster in 2022 and beyond. If the Steelers are to lose Haden, they can replace him with a couple of their former rivals.
Of course, we are talking about J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore
Steelers should look at former rivals as Joe Haden replacements
Both Jackson and Gilmore were former teammates on the New England Patriots, and are two of the top corners on the free agency market.
Jackson is coming of of a stellar 2021 campaign, where he recorded 58 combined tackles, a league-high 23 defended passes, eight interceptions and one forced fumble. In coverage, Jackson allowed 52 completions for 658 yards and three touchdowns on 106 targets, per Pro Football Reference.
A return to the Patriots for Jackson is not a given, as NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported that contract talks went nowhere during the season and insinuates that Jackson is looking to be paid top-five cornerback money. The Patriots do not have that space to pull off that deal, but the Steelers have over $29 million in cap space to work with, and they could make a run at the corner.
Then, there is Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. Gilmore was on New England’s physically unable to perform list entering the 2021 season after missing training camp. The year prior, Gilmore tore his quadriceps. He ultimately was traded to the Panthers in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round pick.
Gilmore played in eight games this past season, where he recorded 16 total tackles, two interceptions and two defended passes. The veteran corner allowed 159 yards and two touchdowns on a 68.0 completion percentage (17 completions on 25 targets), per Pro Football Reference.
Spotrac projects Gilmore’s market value at $14.1 million a year. That is something the Steelers could afford if they want to add a former Defensive Player of the Year.
Just know that the Steelers have options this offseason when it comes to the cornerback position.