Jerricho Cotchery left the Pittsburgh Steelers today and joined the Carolina Panthers. You can argue that his contract was worth significantly more than what the Steelers could have offered but I have another theory.
It is no longer difficult to admit that Todd Haley is an issue in Pittsburgh. Charlie Batch suggested as much last year that Haley was a big reason why players wanted out of the Steel City and I believe Cotchery’s departure is a significant piece of evidence that furthers his suggestion.
Cotchery’s deal is reportedly worth $5 million over two years. If that was more money than the Steelers were offering then so be it. But I find it odd a guy catches ten touchdown passes from a top of the line quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger and then wants out. Cotchery was clearly going to play more this season with Emmanuel Sanders gone and the only thing left on the roster being Derek Moye, Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown.
So, why leave?
I was not a fan of the Todd Haley hire and I’m still not. I can however give credit where it is due and I do give Haley credit for allowing Roethlisberger to run more of the no-huddle offense and for getting the offense clicking by mid-season. That said, I still have issues with many aspects of Haley as an offensive coordinator.
The Haley Effect as I call it has not just been about players, but about fellow offensive coaches as well. Scottie Montgomery left his receivers’ coach position for essentially the same role at Duke. Offensive line coach Sean Kugler left to become the head coach at UTEP and then this postseason Kirby Wilson made a lateral move to coach running backs in Minnesota.
Who makes a lateral move in the NFL? Oh and don’t forget Jack Bicknell, Jr was sent packing after just one year as the offensive line coach too.
I find a couple of moves to be common but this many to me reeks of smoke from a fire. Roethlisberger will and has said he has a good working relationship with Haley and I believe him. I think Ben Roethlisberger is smart enough to know that it does him no good to say anything otherwise so he is making the best of the situation.
Haley has rubbed people wrong in Arizona, Kansas City and seemingly now in Pittsburgh. In my opinion there is no longer any way we can deny there have been issues because the evidence is mounting.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 730pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.