The Browns named Ray Farmer their assistant general manager, the team announced today.
“He adds a voice as just a, I think, top, top-tier player evaluator in the NFL,” Browns CEO Joe Banner said this afternoon during a conference call.
Mike Lombardi, who was named vice president of player personnel on Jan. 18, also has had his title changed to general manager. Farmer will work closely with Lombardi, helping manage the professional and college scouting departments.
“The change in Mike’s title was a reflection of the need to create the assistant general manager title in order to get permission from Kansas City for Ray to be free to interview with us,” Banner said. “There’s no change in Mike’s position at all. It’s purely an add of Ray. The title change just facilitated our getting permission from Kansas City.”
So why didn’t the Browns name Lombardi general manager from the start?
“At the time we didn’t know if this would happen, and I like the structure of a vice president of player personnel a little bit better,” Banner said. “Frankly, it gave [Lombardi] and the department something to aspire to, and I thought that was a good thing to have. But I thought it was outweighed by the opportunity to add another top-tier person in his department.”
Farmer, 38, interviewed with the Browns in January as they searched for their new personnel chief, Banner said. He joins the organization after spending the previous seven seasons (2006-12) as the Kansas City Chiefs’ director of pro personnel.
With the Chiefs, Farmer oversaw the scouting of all players with professional experience, evaluating current players in the NFL, Canadian Football League and all other pro leagues. Farmer, a graduate of Duke University who hails from White Plains, N.Y., was a pro scout with the Atlanta Falcons (2002-05) before joining the Chiefs.
“I’ve made a practice through the years of just asking people constantly around the league, ‘Hey, who do you work with who’s sharp, who are the young, up-and-coming people?’” Banner said. “Ray’s name started to get mentioned to me all the way back when he was in Atlanta, and then I started hearing his name some more in Kansas City just as a very bright, hard-working guy. [He] understood the elements of putting together a team versus just picking players, and that’s what got me to the point where we included him in the interviews in the general manager search, where he was just extremely impressive.”
When Banner worked for the Philadelphia Eagles, they picked Farmer in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL Draft. A linebacker, Farmer started 16 of the 32 games in which he appeared before a knee injury ended his playing career after three seasons.
“I’ve followed his career,” Banner said. “I’ve been very impressed with him and have always had [him] in mind as somebody that I potentially would want to bring into an organization I was part of, and the situation presented itself. We’ve actually been working on this for a little while and were finally able to execute it.”
Banner said there are no other additions to the personnel department in the works at this point, and coach Rob Chudzinski will continue to report to him despite Lombardi's new title.
"There's no change in Mike's responsiblities," Banner said.