Browns reward Haden's transformation

May, 13, 2014
5/13/14
3:14
PM ET

It's always good to retain a team's good, young players, and that's what the Cleveland Browns did in signing Joe Haden to a five-year contract extension worth $68 million.

Haden is a good, young player who believes in the Browns, who wants to be a Brown. He also showed the greatest progression in maturity and attitude that I think I've ever seen from a player in one year.

In 2012, Haden was suspended for four games. He clashed with then-coach Pat Shurmur. He was a regular in the wee hours at the casino downtown.

A year later, the light had gone on.

Haden was a pro, a team leader, a stand-up guy. He said marriage, faith and a dose of reality from the suspension changed him. Whatever happened, the difference was remarkable.

The Browns rewarded him lavishly. A total of $45 million is guaranteed. Of that,$23 million is fully guaranteed, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, and $22 million is guaranteed against injury.

It's a huge amount of money for a guy less than two years removed from a four-game suspension.

Clearly, the Browns believe in their investment.

In Haden, they get a very good cover corner who is on the cusp of greatness because of his dedication, quickness and desire. Consider that Haden has 64 combined interceptions and pass breakups since he was drafted, the most in the NFL since 2010 (when he was a rookie) and twice as many as any other member of the Browns in that time. If Haden improves half as much this offseason as he did last, the Browns will have a top-four corner for the next five years.

They also get a stand-up guy who's not afraid to admit his mistakes. Witness his reaction to giving up the game-winning touchdown to Jacksonville -- “What was I thinking?”

Those are all good things.

It's interesting. A few days after the news broke that Josh Gordon faces a one-year suspension, the Browns extend a guy who also has been suspended in his career.

The really half-full view?

This could be a good sign for the long-term future for Gordon.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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