Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden
In a black leather suit and a stylish skinny tie, Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden graced the NFL Network studios Thursday night.
When discussing the Browns this offseason, there's been one commonly used word from analysts: change. A new front-office structure, a new head coach and potentially the addition of a franchise cornerstone with the number four overall pick. All will be breathing new life into the city of Cleveland.
And according to Haden, the changes are encouraging.
Haden's particularly smitten with the free-agent addition of safety Donte Whitner. An eight-year veteran, Whitner spent the last three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, earning Pro Bowl honors each of the last two.
"He's a hard hitter, and I just like the attitude and the mentality he's going to bring to our team," Haden said. "We need somebody that's known how to win, that's come from winning, that knows the way the locker room is supposed to be."
A strong secondary will be vital in gaining ground in the AFC North. The unit can begin building bonds on Monday, when voluntary workouts commence. Whitner and other new free-agent additions Karlos Dansby, Ben Tate, and Andrew Hawkins – along with the rest of the team – will get their first taste of the program of new strength and conditioning coach Paul Ricci, who spent the last two seasons with the New York Jets.
It's almost impossible for a Browns player not to be asked an interview question about the team's quarterback situation, and Haden's NFL Network appearance was no exception. Haden is a firm believer in incumbent Brian Hoyer, but also acknowledged that drafting another passer would breed a competitive spirit.
"Brian Hoyer is our starter going into it," Haden said. "We get another quarterback in the draft – I don't care how many quarterbacks we do get in the draft – we need something to just compete."
The message was clear: expectations have been raised inside the organization, and the players are ready to meet them. "I just know one thing for sure: Mr. (Jimmy) Haslam, our owner, his one incentive, his one goal is for us to start winning," Haden told the NFL network hosts. "That's the big thing for me. I know his whole thing is whatever he has to do to get the Browns to the Super Bowl."