Todd Haley

AFC North Rumors: Ravens, Haley, Steelers

John Harbaugh confirmed the Ravens were interested in Torrey Smith last offseason, and Joe Flacco called his former deep threat while he was a free agent, Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes. Smith ultimately decided to sign with the Eagles, and it’s unclear what the Ravens offered (if one was made) for a reunion. Smith, who the 49ers cut prior to free agency last year, was interested in a Ravens return as well. But he didn’t recall the Ravens and his camp getting far on a deal.

I don’t really think so. We talked, but with the way the timing was going, I kind of just had to make a decision,” Smith told Zreibec about the sides’ 2017 discussions. “For me, this time around, it wasn’t about finances at all. It was about the right situation and the right time and that’s really kind of how it’s going to probably end up being for the rest of my career.

… Obviously, I had interest in coming back. That’s home. I have a lot of respect for everyone over there. They know that. It’s love forever. But to have the opportunity to come up here with some guys I was familiar with and to play in my wife’s hometown, that was pretty cool as well.”

However, with the now-two-time Super Bowl champion wideout a possible free agent again soon — the cap-strapped Eagles hold a team option for his $5MM 2018 wages — he may have another decision to make. And with Baltimore’s post-Smith deep threat, Mike Wallace, also a UFA, the sides could potentially revisit a reunion. Smith’s best seasons came with the Ravens, and he hasn’t come particularly close to matching his Baltimore work over the past two seasons.

Here’s the latest from some of the Ravens’ top rivals.

  • The Browns‘ offense may like quite familiar to a certain fanbase next season. Todd Haley will be bringing over his offensive system from Pittsburgh, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. The longtime OC and new Browns play-caller will be implementing his scheme, complete with new terminology, so it will mark a significant adjustment from a team that operated without an OC the past two seasons. However, some of Hue Jackson‘s previous concepts will be retained, Haley said.
  • While Ryan Shazier continues his rehab from the spine injury that has his NFL career in danger of ending, the Pro Bowl linebacker is working out at Steelers facilities daily. Kevin Colbert said Shazier works out at the team’s headquarters and attends meetings in addition to his rehab performed at an outpatient facility. Guaranteed $8.7MM next season, Shazier has been working with coaches watching film and observing scouting meetings, Joe Rutter of the the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Owner Art Rooney said last week Shazier would have a role with the 2018 Steelers even if he can’t play next season. The linebacker was recently released from a Pittsburgh hospital after at two-month stay and displayed progress at a recent Pittsburgh Penguins game by standing up, with assistance, and remaining on his feet to a standing ovation.
  • The Steelers have already restructured two starters’ deals to create 2018 cap space and may well continue to do so. Even after they reorganized David DeCastro and Stephon Tuitt‘s contracts, the Steelers have barely $7MM in projected space. Pittsburgh used to be against this tactic, but Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports team VP of football and business administration Omar Khan is believed to have convinced ownership to proceed in this fashion years ago. Khan serves as the franchise’s chief negotiator. While Tuitt and DeCastro’s 2019 cap numbers rose because of last week’s transactions, Bouchette notes the Steelers believe the cap’s continuous rises will help absorb those figures — the 2019 cap could well surpass $190MM — and keep the team from having to cut essential personnel to cover for their accounting tricks.

AFC Coaching Notes: Browns, Reid, Callahan

Hue Jackson will be taking on a CEO-style approach this season and shed light on why he thought Todd Haley‘s experience was sufficient to unseat him as Browns play-caller. Jackson confirmed Thursday that Haley will call plays, just as he did in Pittsburgh.

This is something I’ve always dreamed of transitioning into,” Jackson said (via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com) of an arrangement where he will oversee the offense while an OC calls plays. “For the first two years I didn’t think there was somebody out there that could do it better than myself. I’ve said that from Day 1, I just don’t think that’s fair.

… We’re in a different phase of this process here in Cleveland and we’re well set up to move forward on offense where I can feel comfortable saying, ‘Hue, you need to be more of the CEO head coach. Let your role really on game day be about the football team, not just the team on offense.”’

Jackson, who called Browns plays the past two seasons and did so without an offensive coordinator, said Haley became his top OC choice once the Steelers did not renew his contract. While the third-year head coach said Haley will run the show come game day, with Jackson’s recommendations, he will be hands-on with the quarterback the Browns select in the draft. They are widely expected to pick a quarterback at No. 1 overall

I probably will. That part of me isn’t going to change,” Jackson said of working with a rookie quarterback. “I’m just not the primary play-caller and not the driver of the offensive football team. My expertise is on the offensive side, but again, I just hired one of the best of the best in the league.”

Here’s the latest from AFC staffs.

  • Brian Callahan‘s received interest from the Titans and Jets since he and the Lions parted ways, with the former scheduling an OC interview that took place Wednesday. However, the Raiders are in the mix for Callahan now too. Callahan will interview for Oakland’s quarterbacks coach position, Jason Wolf of The Tennesseean reports. The Jets view him as a fit for their QBs job as well and are interviewing him for that role. So, the former Broncos and Lions assistant has options.
  • As Jackson transitions away from play-calling responsibilities in Cleveland, Andy Reid will pivot back to them in Kansas City. The sixth-year Chiefs HC will call plays in 2018, he said Thursday (via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star). This could be expected since Reid lost Matt Nagy, who called plays for the Chiefs late in the season, to Chicago. New OC Eric Bieniemy has never called NFL plays before, and Reid maintained play-calling duties during the start of Nagy and Doug Pederson‘s tenures before ceding those reins toward the end of their respective runs. Reid revealed he called plays in Week 17, which was Patrick Mahomes‘ NFL debut, despite a run of success for Nagy late in the season. That interruption could be notable since Mahomes could well be K.C.’s starter in 2018.
  • Josh McDaniels‘ second interview with the Colts will take place on Friday, sources tell Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). McDaniels, who will take over as the Colts’ head coach after the Super Bowl, will sit down with owner Jim Irsay and GM Chris Ballard to make plans for the offseason. Per league rules, McDaniels cannot formally be named as Indianapolis’ new HC until after the Patriots’ season is over, so the “second interview” is the only way the two parties can meet in person.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Browns Officially Hire Todd Haley

The Browns have their man. On Wednesday morning, the Browns formally announced the hiring of Todd Haley as their new offensive coordinator. Todd Haley (vertical)

We’re thrilled to bring Todd Haley in as our offensive coordinator,” said head coach Hue Jackson in a press release. “I’ve known Todd for a very long time and have respected and admired the job he’s done as a play-caller in this league. He’s a coordinator that has been successful in every place he’s been. He has been a guy that has adjusted his offense to successfully complement and taken advantage of the skillset of his personnel. I’ve witnessed firsthand how prolific his offenses have been in the AFC North over the last six seasons. As I reflected after the season and contemplated adding an offensive coordinator to the staff, my first thought was obviously improvement. If I was going to turn over the play calling duties to someone else, it had to be to someone that was experienced and had a long history of success in this league….When Todd became available, I jumped at the opportunity to meet with him. Once we sat down and talked, it became quickly evident that Todd would be a great fit.”

Of course, some will speculate that Jackson didn’t have much choice when it came to hiring an offensive coordinator. Jackson has been the team’s play caller for the last two years and the team has won just one game over that span. At the same time, Jackson previously intimated that he would have hired an OC for 2017, but he did not want to saddle a new hire with such a talent-poor offense.

Haley has spent the past 21 years coaching in the NFL, including the past six as the Steelers’ OC. Under Haley’s guidance, the Steelers had one of the best offenses in the NFL. Wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell flourished in Haley’s system and they were among the six offensive players from the Steelers to be selected to the Pro Bowl this past season. Meanwhile, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has earned four straight Pro Bowl nods and tied for the NFL lead in passing yards in 2014. The Browns are dying to those kinds of results from their next quarterback, whoever he may be.

In addition to Haley, the Browns announced that Amos Jones will be the team’s new special teams coordinator and Freddie Kitchens will serve as the running backs/associate head coach.

Browns, Todd Haley Nearing Deal

The Browns are close to an agreement to make Todd Haley the team’s new offensive coordinator, according to a league source who spoke withPat McManamon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Todd Haley (vertical)

Haley boasts eight years of offensive coordinator experience, broken up by nearly three seasons as the Chiefs’ head coach. He has spent the last six seasons as the Steelers’ OC and the on-field results have been largely tremendous. Over the past four seasons, the Steelers were second in NFL scoring behind only the Patriots.

Off the field, however, is a different story. Haley has been in the papers for the wrong reasons as of late, including a frosty relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a scuffle on New Year’s Eve that left him with a shattered pelvis. The Browns have dealt with their fair share of headaches from players, but they apparently feel comfortable with the fact that Haley

Before zeroing in on Haley, Cleveland interviewed former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan for the job. Hue Jackson has gone without an OC the past two seasons and the results have been worse than any other two-year span in league history.

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Cardinals Rumors: Munchak, Wilks, Caldwell

The Cardinals are the only NFL team looking for a new head coach that either hasn’t already made a hire or does not have a clear-cut front-runner for the position. Indeed, many coaches around the league have “trepidation” about the Arizona gig, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Among the factors concerning potential contenders are the Cardinals’ lack of a solution at quarterback and the increasingly difficult path to contention in the NFC West. Additionally, Arizona prefers to keep the majority of its defensive staff in place, meaning a new head coach might not get the opportunity to hire his own coaches, as La Canfora writes in a separate piece. The immediate outlook for the Cardinals isn’t very positive, meaning ownership could make “sweeping changes” again in just a few years.

Here’s more on the Cardinals:

  • Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak withdrew from Arizona’s coaching hunt last week, but La Canfora reports (via Twitter) that Munchak would have been the favorite for the club’s head coaching position had he not pulled out. Munchak cited family concerns when explaining why he decided to remain in Pittsburgh, but there was at least some thought the Steelers could promote the NFL Hall of Famer to offensive coordinator after ex-OC Todd Haley‘s contract expired. Instead, Pittsburgh tabbed incumbent quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner for the role, meaning Munchak will return for a fifth season as the team’s OL coach. Munchak, 57, has previous head coaching experience, as he posted a 22-26 record with the Titans from 2011-13.
  • Among the candidates who are still in contention for the Arizona job, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has reportedly made a “very strong impression” on Cardinals ownership during the search process, tweets La Canfora. Wilks, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, and Eagles quarterbacks John DeFilippo all have or will receive second interviews. Incumbent DC James Bettcher, meanwhile, won’t require a second meeting given his familiarity with Arizona’s decision-makers.
  • While the Cardinals’ search is still ongoing, candidates have already started to formulate hypothetical coaching staffs. Flores for instance, would likely install former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator were he to land the Arizona gig, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bettcher, meanwhile, is eyeing former Broncos play-caller Mike McCoy for OC and ex-Colts head coach Chuck Pagano for DC, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
  • We touched on Haley earlier, and the former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator says he would have interest in taking over OC duties for the Cardinals, per Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM (Twitter link). Haley, of course, has worked in Arizona before as the club’s offensive coordinator from 2007-08. Also a potential candidate for vacant OC jobs in both New York and Cleveland, Haley will likely need to wait until the Cardinals settle on their next head coach before taking any serious looks at a reunion in the desert.

Browns Interview Todd Haley For OC Job

The Browns continue to search for an offensive coordinator, with multiple recent head coaches on the team’s short list for the position.

One high-profile coordinator is as well. Todd Haley and the Browns have discussed this job, with Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reporting the sides are engaged in “serious talks” about the role. Haley has formally interviewed for the post (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal).

The Steelers let Haley’s contract expire after their season ended, and the two sides are going their separate ways after six seasons together. The Browns have obviously not enjoyed a similar kind of consistency on their staff but are set to change their offensive coaching arrangement.

Cleveland’s interviewed Ben McAdoo and Sean Ryan for the job, and Mike Mularkey is a consideration as well. Hue Jackson has gone without an OC the past two seasons, which have been worse than any other two-year run in NFL history.

The 50-year-old Haley has been an offensive coordinator for eight seasons, with his Cardinals run ending with a narrow Super Bowl loss to the Steelers and providing a springboard for Haley to catch on as the Chiefs’ head coach. After the Kansas City tenure did not go especially well, Haley helped Ben Roethlisberger to his best statistical seasons. Over the past four years, the Steelers were second in cumulative offense — behind only the Patriots. And Haley’s overseen the work of two of the game’s best players in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.

While Ryan would prefer to call plays, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes the Texans’ QBs coach might not be viewed as experienced enough to do so over Jackson. However, Cabot adds Haley’s extensive run as a play-caller would probably induce Jackson to give him the keys to the 2018 Browns’ offense, if hired.

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Jets Fire Offensive Coordinator John Morton

John Morton is out as offensive coordinator of the Jets, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter). The Jets were hoping that Morton would be hired away by another team, but that never happened. Instead, the well-liked Morton has been pushed out. John Morton (vertical)

Under Morton’s watch, the Jets finished 28th in total yards, 19th in rushing yards, and 24th in both scoring and passing yards. Overall, however, the Jets’ offense performed better than most expected.

Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is a strong candidate to take over his job, but nothing has been finalized just yet. Former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley could also be a candidate for the position, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

It has been rumored that Bates is the Jets’ preferred choice for the OC job, but he has indicated to the team that he is not interested in the position. It’s possible that Bates could have a change of heart if the Jets are willing to pay him more than the average OC.

Another name to keep an eye on is Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. DeFilippo was the Jets’ top choice to replace Chan Gailey last year before Philly blocked the interview request, according to an earlier report from Mehta. However, DeFilippo could be in play for a head coaching position this offseason and figures to have several other offensive coordinator opportunities.

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Steelers To Hire New Offensive Coordinator

The Steelers are allowing offensive coordinator Todd Haley to walk now that his contract has expired, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The team will now look to hire a new OC. Todd Haley (vertical)

[RELATED: Ben Roethlisberger To Play 3 More Years?]

The Steelers may have a couple of in-house candidates to replace Haley. One is quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, who was previously assigned to act as a “buffer” between Ben Roethlisberger and Haley on the sidelines. The other is offensive line coach Mike Munchak, who appears to have withdrawn his name from consideration for the Cardinals’ head coaching vacancy.

On the whole, Haley’s offense has been a success in Pittsburgh, but his bickering with Big Ben and off-the-field incidents have tested the patience of his superiors. Haley’s latest unfortunate headline came when he suffered a shattered pelvis during a barroom brawl on New Year’s Eve.

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Ben Roethlisberger To Play 3 More Years?

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has privately told teammates that he wants to play for at least three more seasons, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.Ben Roethlisberger (vertical)

The 35-year-old Roethlisberger indicated following Sunday’s Divisional Round loss that he plans to return for the 2018 season, an important disclosure given that he reportedly mulled retirement prior to the 2017 campaign. Coming off a season which was largely in line with his career norms (64.2% completion rate, 28 touchdowns, 92.4 quarterback rating), Roethlisberger sounds as though he’s eager to continue his career through at least next year, and potentially beyond. He’s under contract through 2019, with cap charges of $23.2MM in each season.

Roethlisberger’s relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley has reportedly been the source of some strain, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Sunday that the rapport between the two Steelers “in in as bad of a place as it’s been in years.” Haley’s contract is now expired, per Bouchette, and it’s unclear if he’ll return to Pittsburgh in 2018 after failing to “build support among key players” on the club’s offense. If Haley leaves the Steelers, quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner would represent a “strong candidate” to become the team’s next offensive coordinator.

Appearing on his local radio show on CBS Pittsburgh this morning, Roethlisberger seemed to refute any concerns regarding Haley. “There’s always issues in a competitive field,” said Roethlisberger, noting that the reported rift is “perceived as a bigger deal” than reality might warrant (Twitter links via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com). “You might butt heads at times, it doesn’t mean you have any personal problems.”

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Todd Haley’s Contract With Steelers Expires

Todd Haley‘s contract with the Steelers has expired, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As Bouchette explains, the team does not typically allow a coach’s contract to lapse if they intend to keep him, so this could indeed be the end of his time as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator. 

Haley is reportedly at odds with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his off-the-field behavior probably doesn’t help matters. This season, Roethlisberger requested that QBs coach Randy Fichtner coach from the sidelines instead of the press box so that he can provide a buffer between him and Haley. Although the Steelers have enjoyed great success with Haley as the OC, this could be the offseason that they go in a different direction.

Fichtner has been with the team since 2007 and has served as the QBs coach for the last eight seasons, so he could be a candidate for the position if Haley is pushed out the door. His relationship with Big Ben could also help his case.

The Steelers have not allowed a coordinator’s contract to lapse without an extension since after the 2011 season. In that instance, Bruce Arians was nudged out the door in what was referred to as a “retirement.”

 

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