BEREA, Ohio — Joe Haden’s bounce-back season might not happen with the Browns.
The two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, who has been limited by injuries the past two years, is reportedly being shopped and Cleveland coach Hue Jackson did nothing to clarify Haden’s future.
Following Tuesday’s practice, Jackson did not deny a CBSSports.com report that the Browns are “aggressively trying to trade” Haden.
“This is the time of year where everything starts happening,” Jackson said when asked about the report. “Things start getting said. Obviously, I don’t know that. But we’ll deal with those things as we move forward.”
Jackson deferred other questions about Haden to Sashi Brown, the team’s executive vice president of football operations.
“I trust Sashi and his group to make the right decisions that I think is best for our football team,” Jackson said. “Do I want Joe Haden on our football team? Yes, but whatever our organization thinks is best for our football team, that’s what we’ll do.”
Agent Drew Rosenhaus declined to comment. The Browns did not make Haden available following practice.
Before the workout, Haden, who has been with the team since 2010, laughed as he and linebacker Christian Kirksey danced during stretching. Haden then joined the pre-practice huddle and barked with his teammates before lining up at cornerback the way he always does.
Soon, he could be doing it elsewhere.
Haden is to make $11.1 million this season, and the Browns could be trying to unload his contract to add a wide receiver because the team lacks playmakers at that position.
It’s possible the Browns could call and offer Haden to Indianapolis, which will be without Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis. Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Davis suffered a “pretty significant” groin injury last week against Pittsburgh.
Kirksey has grown close with Haden over the past three-plus seasons and would hate to see him go.
“Joe is a tremendous player,” Kirksey said. “He’s been to multiple Pro Bowls. He’s a great person, a great friend and I’d love for him to be a teammate of mine. The other things are way above my head. I don’t really know what to say about all about of that, but Joe’s definitely been a great person and a great player for us. He’s still out here making plays. I think this is one of his best camps this year. He’s been hurt the past years, but he’s definitely come out here and competed.
“He’s a leader on this defense and he’s been a leader to these young guys. Joe has done everything great for us and I just hope he’s still with us.”
A former first-round pick, Haden signed a five-year, $67.5 million extension in 2014. The deal, which included $45 million guaranteed, made sense at the time as the team locked up a team leader and one of its best players.
But Haden hasn’t played close to his Pro Bowl-level the past two seasons and his drop in production has made him a target for some Cleveland fans.
The 28-year-old, who underwent offseason groin surgery, has acknowledged being stung by the criticism and has vowed to come back strong this season. He’s been starting alongside Jamar Taylor during the preseason.
If Haden gets dealt, Jason McCourty, who signed as a free agent in the offseason after eight years in Tennessee, would likely move into a starting spot. Briean Boddy-Calhoun is currently listed as Haden’s backup on the weekly depth chart.
Jackson credited Haden for playing well this summer before saying he was unaware of the trade reports.
“He’s had a great training camp,” Jackson said. “He’s played well in our games. So he’s a huge piece of what we do on defense and we’ll just keep moving from there.”
As the Browns prepared for their final exhibition in Chicago on Thursday, Kirksey said he hasn’t spoken to Haden about the trade rumors and doubts his teammate will bring them up.
“One thing about Joe, he’s going to come out here every day, he’s going to work hard, he’s going to lead us and he’s going to control what he can control,” Kirksey said. “He’s not the type of person that would talk too much about his business and things like that that’s going on. He’s coming out here being the best teammate he can possibly be.”