Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase is expected to go through with a head-coaching interview with the Browns once his team is finished with the postseason, the Denver Post reported this morning.
Two NFL sources told the Post the Browns are waiting to interview Gase, a perceived favorite to land the job, before they hire their seventh full-time head coach since 1999. Owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner fired coach Rob Chudzinski Dec. 29 after the team went 4-12 during his first season on the job.
Gase and the Broncos will face the New England Patriots at 3 p.m. Sunday in the AFC Championship game. If the Broncos lose, Gase could interview with the Browns as early as Sunday night or Monday. If the Broncos win and advance to face either the San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks at 6:25 p.m. Feb. 2 in Super Bowl XLVIII, the earliest he could interview with the Browns would be Feb. 3.
The Browns submitted their first interview request to Gase, and NFL rules would’ve allowed him to carry out the meeting before the conclusion of wild-card weekend Jan. 5 because the Broncos had a bye. However, Gase told the Browns and Minnesota Vikings he wouldn’t satisfy their interview requests until the Broncos were finished with the playoffs. The Vikings have reportedly moved on and are whittling their list of candidates down to finalists while the Browns wait for Gase.
“I told both teams that were interested in me that I appreciated it and I was going to wait until after our season had concluded,” Gase told Denver reporters Jan. 3. “They were great about it. They said they appreciated me being up front and honest about it, and I thought that was the best decision for what we are trying to accomplish with our team.”
Gase’s postponement raised questions about whether he would actually interview with the Browns at all. It also led many to assume that he might not want to be a head coach right now. Even if he interviews as expected, there’s no guarantee he’ll jump at the opportunity to coach the Browns.
After all, Gase is only 35, and he’s in his first season as a coordinator. So who could blame him if he wanted to stay with the Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning for another season to increase the quantity and quality of head-coaching opportunities he could receive in the future?
Either way, several national reporters have labeled Gase a front-runner to replace Chudzinski. It might seem strange to call Gase the favorite before he has even interviewed, but the fact that the Browns are willing to wait for him proves their level of interest could lead to a job offer. One reason they might be enamored with Gase is Haslam's long-standing friendship with Manning, who would certainly qualify as a valuable reference.
There are four other candidates known to have interviewed with the Browns who remain possibilities: former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak, Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
Two others known to have interviewed with the Browns are out of the running. Former San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator and Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt accepted an offer Monday to succeed Munchak as the Titans’ new head coach. And New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels withdrew from consideration last week after he reached out to the Browns following his interview and was told he was not the front-runner, a league source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the search.
The Browns are not commenting on interviews or even confirming that they occurred.