The Browns released Joe Haden on Wednesday morning, effectively ending an seven-season tenure that saw the veteran cornerback become a staple both on and off the field for Cleveland.
As the Browns curate their 53-man roster, executive vice president Sashi Brown made clear these types of decisions don't come easy.
"He has been a great teammate and a true asset to the Cleveland community. These are very difficult decisions," he said in a news release. "We have the utmost respect for Joe and in my eyes, he will always be a Cleveland Brown."
Indeed, Haden leaves Cleveland as one of its most-accomplished players. A two-time Pro Bowler, he recorded 19 interceptions and his 89 pass breakups rank second since he entered the NFL in 2010.
Here's a look back on Haden's career through the years.
April 2010 — With the seventh overall pick, the Browns selected former Florida cornerback Joe Haden in the 2010 NFL Draft. Haden, who started all 40 career games for the Gators, played a key role in lifting them to a national championship in 2009 under then-coach Urban Meyer.
*September 2010: *Haden made an impact from Day 1. As a rookie, he played in all 16 games and made seven starts, totaling 57 tackles, six interceptions — the most by a Cleveland rookie since 2001 — 18 pass breakups, a sack and a forced fumble. Haden recorded an interception in four straight weeks, becoming the first Brown to do so since Ernie Kellerman in 1968.
October 2010:It took him a few weeks, but Haden made the first of many interceptions against the Steelers in October, promptly returning in 63 yards.
September 2013-14:These two seasons were perhaps the highest point of Haden's career to date, earning back-to-back Pro Bowl nods. In 2013, he emerged as one of the league's premier cornerbacks, making 50 tackles, four interceptions and a career-high 21 passes in 15 starts. A year later, Haden continued that streak of domination while earning the inaugural Browns NFL Sportsmanship Award.
October-November 2013:Haden held Pro Bowler and then-Lions receiver Calvin Johnson to three catches for 25 yards. A month later, he posted his first career multiple-interception game against the Bengals, picking off Andy Dalton on back-to-back plays (one of which he returned for a touchdown). Haden also held All Pro receiver A.J. Green to two receptions for 7 yards.
November 2014:In a 24-3 primetime win over the Bengals, Haden again shut down Green and, in the process, helped lift Cleveland to a 6-3 record, a first-place tie in the AFC North and its best start since 1994. Haden held Green to three receptions for 23 yards, powering a defensive effort that held a high-powered Cincinnati offense to 165 yards.
Take a look at some of Joe Haden's best moments since being drafted in the first round by the Browns in 2010.
January 2015: **As much as Haden shined on the field, he played a significant role in the community off it. In January, he was named a Special Olympics Global Ambassador, becoming the first professional football player to ever hold that distinction. Haden, whose younger brother, Jacob, is a member of the league, has been involved with the program since he was seven years old. "Seeing those kids being out there just enjoying life, being so free-spirited, it really touched me," Haden said. "It just shows why I just want to be involved and show those kids I'm out there, too and I'm playing for y'all. It really means something to me and my little brother being a part of it.
December 2015 —Injuries took away what should've been a promising 2015 season for Haden. After multiple concussions, the Browns placed Haden on injured reserve in December.
March 2016 —Haden was dealt another obstacle in March, undergoing unexpected ankle surgery that forced him to miss offseason workouts.
September 2016:In the Browns' home opener against the Ravens, Haden intercepted Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco twice in a 25-20 loss to Baltimore. Around the same time, Joe and his wife, Sarah, welcomed their first child, Joe, into the world.
December 2016 — In what he recently described as the most difficult year of his professional career, Haden battled through multiple groin injuries in an effort to help lift his younger teammates through a 1-15 season. Haden started 13 games, making 48 tackles, three interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He was awarded the Ed Block Courage Award in December, given annually to a member of each of the 32 NFL teams who exemplifies the qualities of Ed Block, the former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts, based on courage, compassion, commitment and community.
January 2017:After revealing he'd need surgery to repair the damage to his groin muscles, Haden outlined why head coach Hue Jackson and his teammates motivated him to keep on playing.
July 2017:Haden entered the team's training camp healthy and re-energized under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. He also played a critical role in mentoring a youth-laden defense that drafted defensive end Myles Garrett and safety Jabrill Peppers. August 2017:The Browns released Haden on Wednesday morning after seven seasons.