The Browns have officially named Ray Farmer the team’s new general manager, the club announced today. Michael Lombardi, the previous GM in Cleveland, has been let go, while Joe Banner is stepping down from his position as CEO and will transition out of the organization within the next few months, says Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to Vic Carucci of ClevelandBrowns.com (Twitter link), the Browns will hold a press conference at 11:30am ET to discuss the front office shakeup.
“The purpose of these moves is to unify our team with one, unequivocal goal: Provide our fans with the winning organization they have long deserved,” said owner Jimmy Haslam in a statement.
The organizational changes have already raised eyebrows among reporters and fans, since Banner and Lombardi had essentially only been with the team for one full season, and the new roles are taking effect right before many key offseason dates. For his part, Banner left his role as Eagles president in 2012 after spending nearly two decades with the franchise, as Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes (via Twitter). Now, less than 18 months after joining the Browns, Banner is on his way out.
While the Browns didn’t have an overly successful year on the field in 2013, the team continued to add young players and maintain cap flexibility, as well as landing a first-round pick from the Colts in exchange for Trent Richardson. However, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network (Twitter link), “word was rampant that Haslam was embarrassed by how the Browns were viewed locally in January,” prompting organizational changes. Haslam also gave former head coach Rob Chudzinski only one season in Cleveland, firing him at season’s end and replacing him with Mike Pettine.
As for Farmer, he had been in the mix for the Dolphins’ general manager position, but pulled out of the mix, a decision that makes sense in retrospect, assuming he knew these changes were in the works in Cleveland.