The Steelers finally worked out a deal with cornerback Joe Haden, signing him to two additional years beyond 2019.
Haden's deal, which calls for $22 million in new money in 2020 and 2021, includes $16.8 million guaranteed.
The Steelers had been working on the deal for over a month and wanted to get it completed before the start of the regular season next Sunday when they travel to New England to face the Patriots. The deal was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The Steelers have a long-standing policy of not negotiating new deals once the regular season begins.
"We get to start the season right going against a good team that’s a measuring stick for kind of where you are," Haden said. "You’re going against a team that’s expected to have a great record at the end of the season, so to start off with them, it’s a chance to start off on the right foot."
Haden, 30, had one year remaining on a three-year, $27 million deal he signed with the Steelers in 2017 following his release by the Browns. He had been scheduled to count $11.9 million against the Steelers' salary cap this season.
His new deal creates as much as $7 million in salary cap space for the Steelers, which the team could use to help sign a veteran tight end and perhaps another one of their own players who is entering the final season of his contract. Nose tackle Javon Hargrave would be next in line for an extension, though free safety Sean Davis and linebacker Bud Dupree are slated to be unrestricted free agents, while starting right tackle Matt Feiler is restricted.
In two seasons with the Steelers, Haden has started 26 games, making three interceptions and 83 tackles while breaking up 19 passes.
A 2010 first-round draft pick of the Browns, Haden has 22 career interceptions in 116 games.
Haden did not appear in a preseason game for the Steelers, sitting out because of a foot injury. But he returned to practice last week and proclaimed himself ready to play in the opener against the Patriots.