ORLANDO, Fla.: Browns owner Jimmy Haslam revealed he sought advice from Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells just days before he fired coach Rob Chud­zinski on Dec. 29 and just weeks before he fired CEO Joe Banner and General Manager Mike Lombardi on Feb. 11.

Haslam also conceded that he has an open line of communication with Parcells.

“Yeah, but Bill’s not going to come work for us, OK?” Haslam said this week during the NFL owners meetings. “I know that’s what everyone’s angling at, but there’s other people that we talk to, too, who are knowledgeable in football that will share that, too. Somehow the Parcells information just happened to hit the radar screen.”

Parcells, 72, has talked about it publicly.

“I did speak with the Browns, but not about any job,” Parcells said Feb. 13 during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I spoke with the owner of the Browns. He asked me if he could come and talk about the organization and what I thought [were] the reasons they were successful or weren’t successful. And so I try to help anybody who asks, and that’s what he was asking about. But there was no discussion about any jobs or anything.”

The two have spent time together in Jupiter, Fla., where Parcells and Haslam’s in-laws live. Haslam said he had lunch with Parcells while he was in Jupiter “for two or three days after Christmas” and met him again in late January or early February.

“I’m intellectually curious and when you have the opportunity to spend time with people who are very knowledgeable in a field, I think it behooves me as the owner of the Browns to learn from those individuals,” Haslam said. “... Bill is a very smart, very competent guy, and he likes to talk about football. So to spend time talking to him about football, I think is, one, it’s interesting, two, it’s fun. It can’t hurt the Browns. But it’s no more than he’s nice enough to spend time with me talking about football.”

Holding pattern

There’s no sign of a resolution in the federal criminal probe into a fraud scheme run by Haslam’s truck-stop empire, Pilot Flying J. So far, 10 employees have pleaded guilty in connection with the investigation.

“I don’t have any timetable on what the federal authorities are working on,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday during a news conference. “So I don’t have any inside knowledge of that in any way. But there has been no reason for us to take any action as of now, and we don’t have any indication that will occur. But we will see how things unfold.”

Said Haslam: “We’re continuing to cooperate with the federal government, and I would hope over a period of time could have a successful outcome. But it’s a process you have to work through.”

Asked if it’s tough waiting to find out what will happen, Haslam said, “I think it would be healthy for everybody to get it resolved.”

Defensive strength

New Browns coach Mike Pettine explained why he believes the team’s group of outside linebackers is not only the strength of the defense, but also intriguing.

•?On starter Jabaal Sheard: “[He] is a guy that’s kind of under the NFL radar. We use the phrase ‘play like a Brown’ — guys that are relentless and passionate, productive. I think he really epitomizes that. He’s a guy that plays that position violently.”

•?On starter Paul Kruger: “[He] had a special year in Baltimore when they won the Super Bowl [two seasons ago]. A lot of people think he took a step backward last year. We’re looking forward to getting with Paul and seeing what makes him tick and seeing if we can get him going.”

•?On Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft: “We really liked Barkevious coming out of LSU a year ago, so he’s a guy that I think has freakish ability. But he’s got some technique things that need to get cleaned up.”

Extra points

If the Browns want to trade up from the No. 4 overall pick in May’s draft, the St. Louis Rams (No. 2 overall) would be a logical partner. Rams General Manager Les Snead hired Browns General Manager Ray Farmer as a scout for the Atlanta Falcons in 2002. Farmer said he has already talked to some teams about potential deals, but Rams coach Jeff Fisher said St. Louis has not. “We’ve not really had any discussion with anybody,” Fisher said. “But that doesn’t mean to say we won’t.” … Haslam said there’s “zero chance” he would override Farmer and direct him on which players to draft. … Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians thinks the Browns added a quality player when they signed tight end Jim Dray to a three-year, $5.625 million contract two weeks ago. “Love him,” Arians said of Dray, who played for the Cardinals the past four seasons. “Blue collar. Gets it done. Whatever you ask of him, he’s going to give you everything he’s got, and he’ll do a really good job at it. I really wanted him back. Cleveland got not only a good football player but a great guy in the locker room. He’s always assignment perfect and gives you everything he has.” … Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett used the word “develop” four times and the word “developmental” twice in four answers about why his team signed former Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden to a two-year, $1.23 million deal last week. “The guys who throw the ball well, that’s an attractive trait,” Garrett said. “He really throws a good ball. Obviously, he can make any throw on the field. The big thing is for him to play more, learn, develop, understand how this game is played at this level. We feel like we can provide that opportunity for him.”

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com.