JANUARY 13: Mayo will pass on an interview with the Browns, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston tweets. This comes after the Panthers requested a head coaching interview with the young assistant and the Patriots making the rare move to announce they are negotiating an extension. The Pats clearly view Mayo as a key part of their future. As such, he is standing down regarding the Browns’ interest.
JANUARY 10: Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweeted out the upcoming schedule for Browns DC interviews. Jim Schwartz is set to interview with the organization on Wednesday, while Brian Flores will be in the building on Thursday. The team is still working out interview times with Jerod Mayo and Sean Desai.
JANUARY 9: The Browns are starting early on their defensive coordinator search. Hours after firing three-year defensive play-caller Joe Woods, the team is eyeing three assistants and former HC Jim Schwartz for the position.
Cleveland sent out an interview request for Schwartz, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, and the parties are scheduling a meeting. Schwartz spent this season out of football. Among other staffers to receive requests, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport add that Steelers linebackers coach Brian Flores, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and Seahawks associate HC Sean Desai have each received interview summons (all Twitter links).
Surprisingly fired by the Dolphins after leading a turnaround during the team’s aggressive rebuild effort, Flores interviewed for four HC jobs last year. Amid a discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and several teams, Flores was not hired and ended up in Pittsburgh as a Mike Tomlin lieutenant on defense. Even with Flores’ lawsuit still proceeding, it is unsurprising he has received early attention. It will be interesting if Flores, 41, ends up on the HC interview circuit; that will impede an early Browns commitment. Prior to his Dolphins tenure, Flores vaulted onto the HC radar after being Bill Belichick‘s de facto DC — a season that ended with the Patriots becoming the second team in Super Bowl history to hold an opponent (the Rams) without a touchdown.
Mayo, 36, has also met with teams about their HC vacancies in the recent past; the Broncos and Raiders interviewed him last year. Mayo reaffirmed recently a desire to become a head coach. While that is not exactly surprising, the Browns are interested to see if he move up a rung on the ladder in order to eventually move to the top of it. A former Patriots linebacker, Mayo has been on Belichick’s staff since 2019.
Desai, 39, spent a season (2021) as the Bears’ DC, but with Matt Nagy‘s staff being canned after last season, the Vic Fangio disciple ended up in Seattle under fellow ex-Fangio staffer Clint Hurtt. Desai spent nine seasons in Chicago, serving as a position coach under Marc Trestman and John Fox before working under Nagy.
Schwartz already showing interest in the Browns mark the beginnings of a potential homecoming for the veteran defensive leader. Schwartz started his NFL career on Belichick’s Browns staff in the early 1990s. The Ravens kept him on after firing Belichick in 1996, and Schwartz has since been a defensive coordinator for three teams — the Titans, Bills and Eagles — and spent the past two seasons as a Titans assistant. The former Lions HC, now 56, has 19 years of NFL HC or DC experience and collected a Super Bowl ring as Philly’s DC in 2017. Schwartz’s time in Philly overlapped with Browns GM Andrew Berry‘s stay with the NFC East team.