After all, he was supposed to be lining up for the team located 90 minutes northwest of the Steel City. But when Cleveland deemed him too expensive and his injury history too long to keep, he ended up traveling down Interstates 80 and 76 to join the Steelers just before the season. It set off a whirlwind of playbook cramming and environmental adjusting, which he handled better than most.
Now, with a full offseason at his disposal and no injuries to rehab, Haden is hitting it harder than ever.
"My groin's good. My knee's good. I'm feeling healthy," Haden said, via ESPN. "I was able to get a full offseason workout. My last two offseasons I haven't been able to train like I wanted to. This year, I got after training like I never have before."
At 29 years old, Haden is entering the last portion of his prime, if he hasn't left it already. Once a top-10 corner, his multiple injuries have hampered both his play and his availability. He avoided the worst of such issues in 2017, appearing in 11 games and recording seven passes defensed to go with one interception, but his numbers also resembled his final campaign in Cleveland (13 games, 11 passes defensed, three interceptions).
He's hoping that a healthy offseason and lack of uncertainty will bode well for his second campaign in Pittsburgh.
"[Before] it was just trying to get the plays and that stuff down," said Haden. "Now, I can work on myself and my individual game and put it together. I was happy I could do it, being able to be healthy. It made me feel good working out in the mornings, get that work in, then having afternoons to myself."
Haden leads a defensive backfield that also includes Artie Burns at the opposite corner, but underwent some changes this offseason with the departures of safety Mike Mitchell and corner William Gay. It's also welcoming former Packers safety Morgan Burnett and awaits further realization of the potential of young corner Cameron Sutton.