Steelers sign Joe Haden

The Steelers signed  cornerback Joe Haden to a three-year contract on Wednesday.

Haden, who played at the University of Florida, was released by the Cleveland Browns earlier in the day, and the Steelers showed immediate interest in the eight-year veteran.

"Pittsburgh was the first team to get in touch with my agent," said Haden. "It just worked out very, very well. I know (Maurkice) Pouncey and (Marcus) Gilbert, we went to college together, won a National Championship. Coach (Mike) Tomlin, every time we played against the Steelers, we always spoke to each other. When I came here to the hotel, it worked out perfect.

"With me it was more the opportunity to be with an organization where I know the structure. I just felt like this would be the best fit. Right now I am just following William Gay. He is showing me the play book. I played for Ray Horton, it's the same defense. A little bit of the terminology is different. It's going to be a quick learning experience."

He is a former No. 1 pick, selected by the Browns with the seventh overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 2013 and 2014, including serving as a Pro Bowl captain in 2014.  

The Steelers have signed free agent CB Joe Haden.

Haden has 19 career interceptions, one of them returned for a touchdown. He has played in 90 career games for the Browns in his first seven season, starting 81, and had 369 tackles, 298 of them solo stops, adding 101 pass defenses, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two sacks.

Haden will debut in black and gold when the Steelers open the 2017 regular season against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.

"It's going to be a tough experience," said Haden. "It's going to be an emotional experience. It should be special. I am excited about the opportunity. I am just ready to play football and make some plays."

Antonio Brown has seen his share of Haden through the years in the Steelers-Browns matchups, and a few years ago had this to say about him.

"A fierce competitor," said Brown. "A tough opponent. And someone you have to be ready for and prepared for. He is strong, he is fast."

Haden brings with him the spirit of giving back that is prevalent in the Steelers locker room and organization. He was named Special Olympics' Global Ambassador in 2015, an organization he got involved with because his younger brother, Jacob, is a Special Olympics athlete and his inspiration. He also was involved with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and was the Browns NFL Sportsmanship Award winner in 2014.

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