Former Browns coach Pat Shurmur will return to the Philadelphia Eagles and likely serve as Chip Kelly’s offensive coordinator, according to reports.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported Sunday that Shurmur is expected to join Kelly’s coaching staff. The Philadelphia Inquirer and CSNPhilly.com later reported the Eagles hired Shurmur. The team has yet to make an announcement.
Owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner fired Shurmur on Dec. 31 after the Browns finished 2012 with a record of 5-11, their 12th losing season since 1999. On Jan. 10, Haslam and Banner hired Rob Chudzinski to replace Shurmur, who went 9-23 in two seasons with the Browns.
But before the Browns chose Chudzinski, they competed with the Eagles by heavily pursuing Kelly. After Kelly interviewed with both teams, he decided to return to the University of Oregon, where he had been the head coach since 2009.
Kelly, however, shocked the world by becoming the Eagles’ coach on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after he began meeting with his suitors from the professional ranks. The Eagles made Kelly one of the 10 highest-paid NFL coaches, signing him to a five-year deal worth about $32.5 million, Schefter reported.
Shurmur, 47, will enter his second tour with the Eagles. He served as their tight ends and offensive line coach from 1999-2001 and their quarterbacks coach from 2002-08. He then spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams before former Browns President Mike Holmgren hired him on Jan. 13, 2011.
Some thought Shurmur would end up with the Kansas City Chiefs because former Eagles coach Andy Reid, his mentor, is now in charge of the organization. The Chiefs, though, hired Doug Pederson as their new offensive coordinator.
Shurmur also reportedly interviewed with the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets for their offensive-coordinator positions. But the Panthers promoted quarterbacks coach Mike Shula to that role, and the Jets hired former Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
Shurmur and Kelly seem like an odd match because Shurmur’s West Coast offense and Kelly’s spread offense are so different. Nevertheless, they’ll be working together.
Browns Pro Bowl offensive left tackle Joe Thomas is a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, the league announced Sunday night.
The award recognizes off-the-field community service and playing excellence. It is named after the legendary Chicago Bears running back who died in 1999.
“I am honored and truly humbled to be recognized as a finalist for this award,” Thomas said in statement. “Walter Payton wasn’t just a hall-of-fame player, he was also one of the best people that ever played in the NFL and made a difference in so many lives. Giving back is something that is extremely important and the Cleveland community is very special to me.”
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten are the other finalists. The winner will be announced the night before Super Bowl XLVIII at the second annual NFL Honors, which will be televised on CBS from 9-11 p.m. Feb. 2.
All 32 teams nominated a player, and a selection panel narrowed the list down to three finalists. The 32 nominees received a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation in their name.
Thomas chose to donate to Team Rubicon USA, a non-profit organization co-founded by his former University of Wisconsin teammate Jacob Wood, who also served in the U.S. Marines. Team Rubicon unites military veterans and medical professionals to rapidly deploy emergency response teams into crisis situations.
“Since he joined the Browns in 2007, Joe Thomas has been a tremendous ambassador for our franchise and Northeast Ohio,” Banner said in a statement. “Not only has he established himself as one of the top offensive linemen in the game, but his philanthropic work has had an extremely positive impact on numerous people. Community involvement is one of our top off-field priorities, and Joe epitomizes these efforts. On behalf of everyone at the Cleveland Browns, we would like to congratulate Joe on this outstanding and well-deserved honor.”
Browns special-teams ace Josh Cribbs will have a spot on the AFC’s Pro Bowl team. Last month, Cribbs was named a first alternate as a kick returner and a special teamer. He’ll fill in for Baltimore Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones because the Ravens advanced to the Super Bowl.
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.
Thomas and kicker Phil Dawson will also represent the Browns in the Pro Bowl. Cribbs and Dawson are scheduled to become free agents in March.
Expect the Browns to be more active this year in free agency than they have been in a while. Free agency will begin at 4 p.m. March 12. “I need to cautiously manage expectations,” Banner said Friday. “I would expect us the players in free agency, but we’ll never be building the team around that. We won’t care about splash. … We don’t want people to say, ‘Well who’s the biggest name in free agency?’ We are not precluding that either. But it could be that we are picking up two, three, four incremental players that are making us better or help our rotation as opposed to being a splash. But I’d be surprised if we are not participants in free agency.” … The Browns finished 14th last year in the special-teams rankings compiled annually by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. 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.