The Browns shocked the football world today when they announced that Ray Farmer has been promoted to general manager, replacing Michael Lombardi, who is leaving the organization. Meanwhile, CEO Joe Banner is also on his way out, though not immediately. The Browns held a press conference this morning to discuss the front office overhaul, but before they did, a number of reports about the moves surfaced:
- A league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that owner Jimmy Haslam felt like Lombardi had to go and that Farmer deserved to have complete control over the football decisions, “unfettered by Banner’s authority” in football operations.
- Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports suggests (via Twitter) that failing to deliver on who they could hire to replace former coach Rob Chudzinski may have doomed Lombardi and Banner in Cleveland.
- NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport passes along a few notable tidbits on the Browns’ coaching search, tweeting that Farmer wasn’t present during Pettine’s interview. Rapoport adds that if Cleveland had been able to hire Adam Gase of the Broncos, the club wanted to pair him with Seahawks exec Scot McCloughan, replacing Lombardi (Twitter link).
- Rapoport also reports (via Twitter) that the team secretly interviewed Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen back in January. The Badgers coach confirmed as much to Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports (Twitter link): “After our initial conversation, I decided not to pursue the position.”
- Lombardi and Banner were surprised and “devastated” by the Browns’ decision, according to Will Burge of Bleacher Report (via Twitter). Burge also hears from a source (Twitter link) that Haslam made the announcement rather abruptly in a meeting this morning.
At today’s press conference, Haslam began by taking questions from reporters on his own, addressing many lingering questions, including a few of the topics mentioned in the above list. Here are the highlights from Haslam (all link go to various reporters’ Twitter accounts):
- Banner will continue to work in a transitional role in the organization until May or June.
- Farmer, head coach Mike Pettine, and team president Alec Scheiner will all report directly to Haslam.
- Haslam had nothing but praise for Banner and Lombardi, suggesting that the duo had left the team in a good position with regard to the draft and cap space.
- The team has no regrets about its head coach and is happy with the one it landed, in Pettine. Haslam added that reports of candidates not wanting to speak to the Browns are inaccurate.
- Haslam shot down the idea of the Browns as a dysfunctional organization, or one without any continuity, pointing to the fact that Farmer has been in the front office for a year and the team’s scouts are already in place, so it’s not a complete overhaul.
- Today’s moves are the last major changes coming to the Browns organization. Presumably, that statement applies to the 2014 offseason.
- Farmer will have the final say on the Browns’ 53-man roster, while Pettine will make the decisions on game-day rosters.
- Farmer played a key role in the Browns’ coaching search. However, that role primarily involved information gathering rather than actually being in on the interviews.
- Haslam wouldn’t say whether any coaching candidates told him they wouldn’t accept the job if Banner or Lombardi was employed.
- Haslem didn’t promise Farmer the Browns’ GM job to get him to remove his name from the Dolphins’ GM search.
Finally, Farmer took to the microphone and spoke to the media about a number of topics. Here were the noteworthy takeaways from the new GM’s portion of the presser (all Twitter links):
- Farmer has signed a four-year deal with the Browns, which should keep him under contract through the 2017 season.
- The Dolphins GM job was “not right” for Farmer, according to the new Browns GM, dismissing the idea that he withdrew his name from consideration because he knew the promotion in Cleveland was coming.
- Farmer sidestepped football-related questions about the franchise tag and D’Qwell Jackson‘s contract situation, indicating that those decisions will be made at a later date.
- While Farmer had been in communication with Haslam for a few days about the upcoming front office changes, he didn’t know definitively until last night that he’d be promoted to GM.
- The team is in contact with troubled receiver Davone Bess, and the Browns’ top priority is making sure he gets any help he needs.