After flirting with the Browns and Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago, Chip Kelly chose to return to the University of Oregon and then shocked the world today by accepting the Eagles’ head-coaching job.
The Eagles announced their stunning hire this afternoon. Kelly will be their 21st head coach.
The Browns hired Rob Chudzinski as their new head coach on Jan. 10, but Kelly was their top target out of the gate.
The Browns fired coach Pat Shurmur on Dec. 31 and in the following days camped out in Arizona so they could interview Kelly after Oregon defeated Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner interviewed Kelly for seven hours Jan. 4 and came close to reaching an agreement with him to fill their head-coaching vacancy, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.
Kelly, though, reportedly told the Browns that he still wanted to interview with the Eagles and Buffalo Bills, who ultimately hired ex-Syracuse University coach Doug Marrone. On Jan. 5, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, a childhood friend of Banner, and his lieutenants had a lunch meeting with Kelly that reportedly stretched into a nine-hour marathon session and didn’t end until about midnight. The Browns were scheduled to have dinner with Kelly that night.
Then on Jan. 6, the Browns dropped out of the Kelly sweepstakes and flew back to Cleveland to restart their coaching search, a league source told the Beacon Journal. Later that night, Kelly decided to return to Oregon, and everything appeared to be settled.
However, Kelly has joined the Eagles 10 days later.
A person familiar with the Browns’ coaching search told the Associated Press that Kelly was indecisive about leaving Oregon, and the Browns chose to move on to other candidates after questioning whether he “was committed to coming to the NFL.” Kelly also walked away from a chance to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year.
But with Kelly going to the Eagles after all, the perception he left the Browns at the altar in Arizona will only grow. The news is reminiscent of when the Browns were viewed as the front-runners but still lost a bidding war in March 2012 while attempting to trade with the St. Louis Rams for the right to draft Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.