When Browns CEO Joe Banner oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Philadelphia Eagles, the organization drafted Ray Farmer in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL Draft.
Farmer played linebacker for three seasons before a knee injury cut his career short. Fifteen years later, he might get a chance to work for Banner in a much different capacity.
The Browns interviewed Farmer for the vacancy atop their personnel department, Jason La Canfora of CBS reported. The Browns fired General Manager Tom Heckert on Dec. 31 and are now looking for a personnel executive to pair with new head coach Rob Chudzinksi, whom owner Jimmy Haslam and Banner, the Eagles’ former president, hired Thursday night.
Pro Football Talk reported Farmer is believed to be the favorite for the job. The Browns will not comment on candidates during the search.
Farmer, 38, spent the past seven seasons as the Chiefs’ director of pro personnel. Before he joined the Chiefs in 2006, he served as a pro scout for the Atlanta Falcons from 2002-05.
By interviewing Farmer, the Browns satisfied the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for all head-coaching jobs and certain front-office positions.
Farmer, a former standout safety at Duke University, also interviewed to become the Chiefs’ general manager. However, the Chiefs hired former Green Bay Packers director of football operations John Dorsey to fill the role.
Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager George Paton is out of the running to head the Browns’ personnel department, Pro Football Talk reported.
The Browns requested permission from the Vikings to interview Paton, but a meeting never happened, according to the report. One source told Pro Football Talk that Paton passed on a chance to meet with the Browns, and another source told the website the Vikings denied the Browns’ request for an interview.
Either way, Paton is no longer a candidate to join the Browns’ front office.
Other candidates reportedly on the Browns’ radar are NFL Network analyst and former personnel man Michael Lombardi, Seattle Seahawks vice president of football administration John Idzik and San Francisco 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble.
D-line leader wanted
The Browns have received permission from the Jacksonville Jaguars to interview defensive line coach Joe Cullen, USA Today reported.
In other words, the Browns aren’t expected to retain Dwaine Board, who spent the past two seasons serving as their defensive line coach under defensive coordinator Dick Jauron.
Cullen joined the Jaguars in 2010. He previously coached the Detroit Lions’ defensive line from 2006-08. Cullen, 45, also has 22 years of college coaching experience.
Jauron is not expected to be back, and the Browns have yet to name a new defensive coordinator. San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano and Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker are reportedly on their radar.
Former Browns quarterback Derek Anderson used Facebook on Friday night to flirt with the possibility of returning to Cleveland, News Channel 5 first reported.
Anderson had his best NFL season and went to the Pro Bowl in 2007, when Chudzinski was the Browns’ offensive coordinator. Chudzinski spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, and Anderson served as their backup quarterback.
Fox Sports Ohio published quotes from Anderson’s personal Facebook page on its website.
One of the quotes was Anderson’s response to someone who speculated he would rejoin the Browns. The following is an excerpt from it: “[You] know in my heart I love the city. Got a little frustrated with the entire situation when I got fired. But honestly [I] think new ownership will do the right things. If [you] guys would have me back, I’d love to come home. I have a lot of knowledge and have grown up in three years away! We could get this thing rolling again like we all know it can! In 2007, we had that place rocking and it was a lot of fun!”
After the team released Anderson on March 9, 2010, he ripped Browns fans in an e-mail to the (Willoughby) News-Herald.
“The fans are ruthless and don’t deserve a winner,” Anderson wrote then. “I will never forget getting cheered when I was injured.
“I know at times I wasn’t great. I hope and pray I’m playing when my team comes to town and [we] roll them.”
Whether the Browns actually try to bring Anderson, 29, back remains to be seen. He’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. March 12. His base salary last year was $825,000.
Ex-Browns coach Pat Shurmur, whom Haslam and Banner fired Dec. 31, interviewed Monday in Charlotte for the Panthers’ offensive coordinator job, the Charlotte Observer reported. If the Panthers hire Shurmur, he and Chudzinski will have traded places.
Shurmur, 47, coached the Browns from 2010-12 and compiled a record of 9-23. Before joining the Browns, he was the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams for two seasons.
Shurmur is also on the radar of the New York Jets, though they have yet to schedule an interview with him, the New York Daily News reported.
On the team
Browns special-teams ace Josh Cribbs will have a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl team. Last month, Cribbs was named a first alternate as a kick returner and a special teamer.
The Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots will face each other Sunday in the AFC Championship game, meaning one of them will advance to the Super Bowl.
Jacoby Jones of the Ravens made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, and Matthew Slater of the Patriots made it as a special teamer. Players who advance to the Super Bowl, which will be held Feb. 3 in New Orleans, do not participate in the Pro Bowl, which will be held Jan. 27 in Honolulu.
So Cribbs, whose contract is scheduled to expire in March, will have a spot on the Pro Bowl team as either a kick returner or a special teamer.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com.browns.abj.