As a Browns fan, I love Joe Haden, but I do not love the contract that the Browns gave him. Joe has been the mainstay of the secondary for his entire career. He deserves a big contract as much as anyone on the Browns.
I want to be clear that I am not directing a rant at Number 23, but I do think that the Browns and departed GM Ray Farmer erred greatly by giving him "injury guarantees."
Specifically, based on my understanding of his deal from sportrac.com and overthecap.com, Joe's contract has some enormous injury guarantees in it. As of 2016, he gets 4 million dollars of his 2017 salary guaranteed only if he has an injury.
Last year it was even worse, with 10 million dollars guaranteed. My point is that NFL players are very goal oriented and work hard to achieve incentives. If you give a guy a contract with a bonus for games played or total snaps, there's a good chance that he will be out there to earn his pay. Conversely, if you tell the guy that he will get 10 million dollars for being injured, there is a good chance that he will find a way to be injured.
Especially with injuries like concussions, it is very hard to tell if a player is injured or not. Hence if a team offers incentives for getting injured, there is a terrific chance that a player will find a way to be injured, and expecting the player to play hurt and risk losing millions of dollars is an unrealistic fantasy. By playing hurt, I'm not advocating that players damage themselves by playing with a serious injury, but guys can play when they are less than 100% and still contribute to the team. But for a situation in which a sub-par performance can risk getting a guy cut, versus having guaranteed money for being injured, I'm sure that a smart player will get the money. If failing a concussion protocol results in millions of dollars of extra guarantees, I think the player owes it to his family to not try very hard to pass, put it that way. This is a terrible position that the team puts the player in. Nobody wants the player to give less than 100%, but that's what the contract leads the player to do. That is the fault of Browns management and specifically Ray Farmer.
No NFL team, should ever ever offer injury guarantees or incentives. That is just stupid beyond belief. If you're going to do that, you might as well just give a full guarantee that allows the player to give 100% with worrying about the economics.
In this case, I think the Browns should just go ahead and fully guarantee the injury money. Either than or cut him now and absorb a huge salary cap penalty. But do not offer incentives for failing the concussion protocol. Don't put the player in the position of compromising his integrity in order to cash in on guaranteed injury money. The current contract penalizes the Browns first of all, and dis-incentivizes the player from helping the team. In short, it is a horrible, awful, stupid contract and the Browns should never have entered into it under those conditions.