4:44pm: Pettine agreed to a five-year contract with the Browns, according to team CEO Joe Banner (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal).
3:12pm: The last NFL team without a coach has finally found its man. The Browns have hired Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as their new head coach, with a press conference scheduled for this afternoon, according to the team (Twitter link). Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported (via Twitter) that the Browns had reached an agreement with Pettine.
Long after every other head coaching position in the NFL had been filled, the Browns continued to interview candidates and consider potential options to succeed Rob Chudzinski. Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels were among the names the Browns were said to be eyeing before hiring Pettine.
Pettine, who spent four years as the defensive coordinator with the Jets before heading to Buffalo last year, turned the Bills’ D into a top-five unit, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, a significant turnaround after the team ranked 27th in 2012.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (via Twitter), Pettine will bring Bills linebacker coach Jim O’Neil to Cleveland to be his defensive coordinator, assuming Buffalo is willing to let him out of his contract. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets that Pettine had identified Alex Van Pelt as a top candidate for Cleveland’s offensive coordinator opening, but Van Pelt will remain with the Packers as the team’s QB coach (Twitter links).