TEMPE, Ariz. — The Cardinals have been granted permission to talk to Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley for their head-coaching vacancy. The Arizona Republic first reported the news Thursday morning. It was then confirmed by the Cardinals website.
Haley was the Cardinals offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008, leaving after the team’s run to the Super Bowl to become the Kansas City Chiefs head coach.
There were reports that Haley was interested in returning to Arizona last season to become the offensive coordinator again after he was fired in Kansas City following a three-year stint in which he went 19-26 with one playoff appearance. He and team president Michael Bidwill had a good relationship while he was here, but Haley eventually accepted the same position with Pittsburgh, where he spent a tumultuous, non-playoff season with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, with the two at odds over philosophy, style and play calling.
That’s no surprise given Haley’s mercurial nature. He had dust-ups with former quarterback Kurt Warner, and the pickup basketball games the Cardinals coaches held were legendary, with Haley sometimes getting in tiffs with coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Haley was one of the key components in the Cardinals’ once-exciting offense, though, along with Whisenhunt, Warner and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
It’s unclear where Haley ranks among the candidates for the position, but he may have one fewer competitor with multiple outlets reporting that former Eagles coach Andy Reid is close to accepting the Chiefs post. Of course, many of those outlets were the same to report that Reid and the Cardinals were a marriage accompli earlier this week.
Despite earlier reports that Reid could interview in Arizona as soon as Thursday, the Cardinals media relations staff said Thursday morning that, at that time, there were no interviews scheduled for the day. The Associated Press reported in the afternoon that Reid was negotiating with the Chiefs and had canceled all other interviews.
Haley, 45, has 18 years of NFL experience as a scout, assistant and head coach. He is the son of Dick Haley, the former director of player personnel for the Steelers (1971–1990) and Jets (1991–2002) and also a former NFL cornerback (1959–1964).
Given his previous tenure here, he is a known commodity for Bidwill in this search. That could work both for and against him. On the one hand, he oversaw perhaps the most successful offense this franchise has had since moving to the Valley. The Cardinals clearly need help for their 32nd-ranked offense.
On the other hand, Haley’s personality does not always mesh well with players, and his last two stops have not produced rave reviews. He was fired by the Chiefs, and the Steelers’ offense was ranked 21st this season, leading to critical comments from Roethlisberger about Haley’s play calling.