The Browns are still the favorites to win the Chip Kelly sweepstakes, though no deal has been reached yet, NFL Network and ESPN reported today.
Kelly, the University of Oregon’s coach for the past four seasons, interviewed with the owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner for about seven hours Friday in Arizona, and he’s scheduled to meet with them again tonight after he interviews with the Philadelphia Eagles, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported. Kelly also interviewed with the Buffalo Bills on Friday night, the team confirmed.
Lawyers are scheduled to attend the Browns’ meeting with Kelly tonight, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported. Rapoport and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported today the Browns are favored to secure Kelly. Schefter also reported it seems certain that Kelly will leave Oregon for the NFL.
If Kelly chooses the Browns, he would become their sixth full-time head coach since 1999 and their 14th in franchise history. The Browns fired coach Pat Shurmur and General Manager Tom Heckert on Monday after finishing 2012 with a record of 5-11 and their fifth consecutive losing season.
The Browns have Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy and Thaddeus Lewis under contract, but none of them would be considered the Browns' quarterback of the future if Kelly becomes their coach, Mortensen reported. If that becomes the case, the Browns would likely embark on a quarterback search in the offseason.
The Browns also reportedly interviewed Syracuse University coach Doug Marrone, former Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Penn State University coach Bill O’Brien. They interviewed Horton on Tuesday and thus complied with the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams with head-coaching vacancies to interview at least one minority candidate.
Search for personnel chief
The Browns have requested permission to interview Kansas City Chiefs director of pro personnel Ray Farmer and Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager George Paton, according to reports by Schefter and Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer.
Farmer has spent seven seasons as the Chiefs’ director of pro personnel, overseeing the scouting of all players with professional experience. From 2002-05, he served as a pro scout for the Atlanta Falcons. Farmer, who would satisfy the Rooney Rule, played was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round in 1996 and played linebacker for three seasons before his career was cut short by a knee injury.
Paton has spent six seasons with the Vikings as the assistant to General Manager Rick Spielman. The two previously worked together on the personnel staffs of the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins. Paton’s primary responsibilities include coordinating scouting and personnel functions for the Vikings’ pro scouting department and helping the college scouting department prepare for the draft.
NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi, Seattle Seahawks vice president of football administration John Idzik and San Francisco 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble are other personnel men who are reportedly on the Browns’ radar. The Browns also asked the 49ers for permission to interview Gamble, NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported.
No NFL desire
University of Alabama coach Nick Saban told reporters today during the BCS National Championship media day that he has no desire to return to the NFL. Saban, a Kent State University graduate, went 15-17 in two seasons as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins (2005-06). The Browns have reportedly been interested in him for months.
“I don't have any unfinished business in the NFL,” Saban said, according to George Schroeder of USA Today. ... “It's not something I'm concerned about. It's not even anything I want to do.”