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Haden: Tomlin can't be blamed for Steelers' drama

In the aftermath of Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown's departures and outside criticism of Ben Roethlisberger's leadership, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has also seen his locker-room leadership called into question.

But one Steelers transplant denies that Tomlin had lost his grip on Pittsburgh's players amidst the team's recent roster drama.

"He has complete control of the team," Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said of Tomlin to NFL Network's Stacey Dales on NFL Total Access on Thursday. "You have two totally different situations with Le'Veon and with Antonio. It is what is. It's a business. You can't blame coach T for that.

"He's one of the best coaches I've ever played for. You can only ask for honesty. He keeps it real with you. He lets you know exactly where you stand. He lets you know exactly how he feels about you, if you're productive, if you're not. He treats everyone fairly, but I'm gonna say not everybody gets treated the same."

Haden joined the Steelers in 2017 after spending seven years and enduring five head coaches with the Cleveland Browns.

Asked about the Bell and Brown departures, the 29-year-old corner told Dales that he understood why Bell wanted to leave given that the running back wanted Todd Gurley-level guaranteed money (around $45M), way more than Pittsburgh was willing to offer. Brown's saga, however, was another's story.

"With Antonio, that was just a whole different situation. This is a crazy business, and it's definitely relationships and people feel certain types of ways. So that went down the way it did," Haden said. "I wanted AB to be on our team as much as possible. I did everything I possibly could, as far as talking to him and seeing what I could do. But it didn't quite work out that way."

Bell ended up with the New York Jets, signing a four-year deal with around $27 million guaranteed. Brown found a new home with the Oakland Raiders, who gave the receiver a fresh start and a new deal.

Haden, Tomlin and the Steelers, meanwhile, are left to wonder what could have been if those relationships had been salvaged, but to eventually move on from the endless drama they brought to the locker room.

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