The Browns can cross Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase off their wish list.
He might have been the team’s top target as its search for a head coach continues.
Gase called the Browns this morning and told them he would not be interviewing for their head-coaching job after facing the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team isn’t commenting on interviews during its search. The Denver Post first reported the news this morning.
So where does Gase’s decision leave the Browns?
They set up second interviews with candidates on Monday, and those follow-up meetings are expected to be with Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the source said.
Even though Quinn is in the Super Bowl, NFL rules would allow the Browns to conduct a second interview with him this week. The meeting would need to take place no later than Sunday. Quinn became the first candidate to interview with the Browns on Jan. 1.
The Browns' second interview with Pettine is scheduled for tonight, a source confirmed. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Browns' brass would travel to Mobile, Ala., the site of the Senior Bowl, to meet with Pettine. His first interview was Jan. 16.
NFL rules prohibit teams from striking deals with assistant coaches who are still in the playoffs. So if the Browns want to hire Quinn, they wouldn't be able to do so until after the Super Bowl.
The Browns were probably disappointed to learn Gase has dropped out of the running, but no one should be shocked.
When the Browns and Minnesota Vikings requested permission to interview Gase a few weeks ago, he told both teams he would postpone those opportunities until the Broncos were done with the postseason. Gase’s choice raised legitimate questions about whether he wanted to leave the Broncos this year.
The Vikings moved on and hired Mike Zimmer as their new head coach while the Browns waited in hopes of interviewing Gase and possibly other assistant coaches who were in the playoffs. The Browns are the lone NFL team without a head coach. Six others have filled vacancies this offseason.
Gase is only 35, and he’s in his first season as a coordinator at any level. During the 2013 regular season, he helped the Broncos set a single-season NFL record with 606 points, and quarterback Peyton Manning set records with 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdown passes.
So by sticking with Manning for another season, Gase will have a chance to significantly raise his profile, and he could become one of the hottest head-coaching candidates next year. He and his agent, Bob LaMonte, are certainly aware of the possibility. The Broncos will be thrilled to keep him. Executive John Elway recently praised Gase and said he didn’t want him to leave.
Gase became a perceived favorite of the Browns for a few reasons. One, he received the team’s first interview request after it fired coach Rob Chudzinski Dec. 29 immediately following his first season on the job. Two, he’s a young, offensive-minded coach, so he fits a profile that has attracted CEO Joe Banner in the past. And three, he has received rave reviews from Manning, who is a friend of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
The Browns expected to interview Gase, even though he told them to wait upon receiving their initial request. Now they know it won't happen.
In addition to setting up second interviews, likely with Quinn and Pettine, the Browns will also probably consider other candidates. Some new names could surface. For example, it's unknown whether the Browns will meet with San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, but they are free to talk after being eliminated by the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game this past weekend.
The Browns reportedly interviewed two other candidates who are still in the running: Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak. But they might be interested in Munchak as an offensive line coach or a coordinator, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported.
Gase is actually the third candidate to withdraw from consideration for the Browns’ gig. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles dropped out earlier this month after interviewing with Haslam and Banner.
Two other candidates took jobs with different teams after interviewing with the Browns. Former San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt became the Tennessee Titans’ new head coach, and ex-Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo became the New York Giants’ offensive coordinator.