Browns Rumors

Browns Notes: Paton, McAdoo

When previous frontrunner George Paton removed himself from consideration for the Browns’ general manager vacancy, there were reports that he had concerns about Cleveland’s power structure. That might’ve been a bit overblown, as sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that Paton was “not at all scared off by Browns’ structure” (Twitter link). Further, Fowler writes that Paton was “impressed with people in the building and thinks highly of” new head coach Kevin Stefanski, while it came down to the fact that he “felt he had a good thing still going in Minnesota.” Paton is currently an assistant GM with the Vikings. That’s good news for Browns fans, but the earlier reports are still concerning. Stefanski, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, and whoever the new GM is will all be reporting directly to owner Jimmy Haslam, which understandably turns off some prospective candidates.

  • Speaking of former Giants coaches, New York’s former head coach Ben McAdoo left his visit with the Browns without a deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). Garafolo notes that it is still unclear exactly what role McAdoo was interviewing for in Cleveland. Garafolo also writes he was “in play” to be Carolina’s new quarterbacks coach.

Browns Notes: Hunt, Brown, Woods, Staff

The Browns’ scrutinized gamble on Kareem Hunt went fairly smoothly this season, with the running back playing in eight games after serving his suspension for his actions during his Chiefs run. But Hunt ran into some more off-field trouble this week. Rocky River (Ohio) Police pulled him over for speeding and found small amounts of marijuana in three locations in the vehicle, Kaylee Remington of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. Hunt was placed in the backseat of a police cruiser but only charged for speeding. The NFL is aware of the incident, per a statement. This would mean far less were it not for Hunt’s history. A video showed the former rushing champion shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel in 2018, leading to Hunt’s Chiefs departure. Hunt signed a one-year Browns contract but can be retained via RFA tender. However, with John Dorsey out of the picture, the talented back’s standing with the Browns may be less certain.

Here is the latest out of Cleveland:

  • Joe Woods is expected to become the next Browns defensive coordinator, though the 49ers have not given up on keeping him. The Browns are not expected to have a finalized agreement with Woods until after Super Bowl LIV and are holding off on making some hires to their defensive staff, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer adds. Woods becoming Cleveland’s next DC would stand to result in the ex-Denver DC and current San Francisco DBs coach bringing him some handpicked staffers.
  • On the subject of Browns staffers, Kevin Stefanski is bringing in one of his former Vikings coworkers. Six-year Minnesota staffer Drew Petzing will become the Browns’ new tight ends coach, Cabot reports. Petzing coached quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs in Minnesota. The 32-year-old coach worked under then-quarterbacks coach Stefanski in 2018 and moved from assistant QBs coach to wideouts coach last year. Prior to his Vikings stay, however, Petzing spent the 2013 season as a Browns intern.
  • Fired less than two seasons into the radical rebuild Jimmy Haslam green-lit, Sashi Brown expressed concern about the Browns’ constant turnover. Currently working with the Washington Wizards, Brown hopes the next Browns GM will have a chance to build something. “I hope they get the time to do it and that there’s true alignment throughout the building and some conviction and what I would say the organizational faith that maybe hasn’t been there across some of the rash of change that’s been spinning around here for the better part of the last decade,” Brown said, via the Akron Beacon Journal’s Marla Ridenour. The Browns have moved on from a staggering five regimes since Haslam took over in 2012, and the instability has shown no signs of slowing down. GM frontrunner George Paton withdrew his name from consideration for the job Friday afternoon.

George Paton Out Of Browns’ GM Search

Viewed as the frontrunner to become the Browns’ next general manager, George Paton removed his name from consideration for the position, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (on Twitter).

The Vikings’ assistant GM spent time in Cleveland this week going through a second interview, one that was expected to lead to his joining Kevin Stefanski as the key members of the next Browns power structure. But an organization that has struggled to form continuity under its current ownership will now have to make another plan.

Paton’s withdrawal partially stems from an uncertainty about how the Browns would divvy up power, Cabot adds. The GM, Stefanski and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta are set to report to owner Jimmy Haslam. The Browns operated that way during the Sashi BrownHue Jackson years and are set to return to that arrangement.

A 13-year Vikings executive, Paton has turned down multiple teams who have sought meetings with him for GM vacancies. The selective exec was initially contemplating doing the same to the Browns. His apprehension stemmed from former Browns front office staffer Andrew Berry‘s relationship with Haslam potentially making him the favorite for the job, but Paton took a meeting with Browns ownership because of Stefanski’s presence.

Berry is again the leading candidate for the job, Cabot reports. The Eagles exec is eager to prove he is not a “1-31 football GM,” according to TheLandonDemand.com’s Tony Grossi (Twitter link). It appears Berry is still interested in returning to Cleveland. Berry, who joined Paton and Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort in interviewing for the Browns’ GM role, spent 2016-18 with the Browns before joining the Eagles as VP of football operations last year.

Berry has received interest from the Panthers as well, but the Eagles blocked him interviewing for a non-GM job with Carolina. One of Sashi Brown‘s top lieutenants during the Browns’ new-age front office experiment, Berry remains close to DePodesta. The ex-MLB GM is running the Browns’ GM search. Stefanski and Berry also became acquainted during the Browns’ 2019 coaching search, and Cabot notes the two are still interested in working together.

While the Brown-DePodesta-Berry experiment produced historically terrible results — a 1-31 record from 2016-17 — Haslam retaining DePodesta and bringing Berry back in for an interview confirm the owner remains interested in this analytically geared vision.

The Browns have gone through amazing front office turnover under Haslam. Their most recent regime change involved parting ways with John Dorsey after barely two years. Brown received less time. So did the Michael LombardiJoe Banner power structure. Ray Farmer also did not get two full years on job. Haslam fired Tom Heckert, GM from 2010-12, in his first months as owner.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Meet With Ben McAdoo

On Friday, the Browns met with former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo at their team headquarters (Twitter link via Jake Trotter of ESPN.com). It’s not immediately clear whether McAdoo is a candidate for the team’s offensive coordinator position, or whether the Browns will be hiring an OC at all

I’m committed to adding the right people to our building,” new head coach Kevin Stefanski said recently. “That remains to be seen. We’re definitely looking at all avenues as we try to put a really good staff together.”

McAdoo’s run as the Giants’ head coach was a flop, but before all of that, he built a reputation as one of the league’s savvier offensive minds. McAdoo was a member of the Packers’ coaching staff in 2010, helping guide the team to a Super Bowl XLV victory. Then, as the Giants’ OC in 2014, he took the offense from No. 28 in scoring to No. 13. In 2015, they ranked sixth in the NFL in points, despite injuries to several key players.

Many say that McAdoo didn’t have the temperament to succeed as a head coach, but Stefanski & Co. may see him as an effective offensive coach that can aid in the team’s quest to turn things around. Despite all of their star power and hype, the Browns offense (and defense) fell short in 2019, posting a 6-10 record that led to the dismissal of first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Might Not Hire OC

The Browns are without an offensive coordinator, and it might stay that way. This week, new head coach Kevin Stefanski said it “remains to be seen” whether they’ll hire an OC for the 2020 season. 

[RELATED: Surgery For OBJ]

I’m committed to adding the right people to our building,” Stefanski said (via Ben Axelrod of WKYC.com). “That remains to be seen. We’re definitely looking at all avenues as we try to put a really good staff together.”

The Browns have spoken to former Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, but it’s not clear if he’s being looked at for the OC role. Meanwhile, Stefanski might want to control the headset himself, and he has the experience of new offensive line coach Bill Callahan to advise him during his first season at the helm. In light of that, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Stefanski go without an OC.

On the other side of the ball, the Browns are expected to hire 49ers defensive backs coach Joe Woods after the Super Bowl.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Making "Late Push" To Keep Joe Woods

  • Earlier this month, we heard whispers that former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens could land with the Giants. However, Dan Duggan of The Athletic writes that the coach “isn’t a lock” to land in New York. We learned yesterday that the two sides still hadn’t finalized an agreement. Kitchens worked alongside new Giants head coach Joe Judge during their time at Mississippi State, and there was speculation that the 45-year-old could join the staff as a tight ends coach. The Browns went 6-10 during Kitchens’ lone season as their head coach, and he was canned following the regular season.
  • Before hiring Patrick Graham as their defensive coordinator, the Giants had interest in Saints defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn, reports Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post (via Twitter). While he missed out on the gig, the 47-year-old still interviewed for another role on the Giants coaching staff today. Prior to this stint with New Orleans, the 1994 first-round pick served as the Browns assistant defensive backs coach.
  • Joe Woods is the favorite to become the Browns defensive coordinator, but the 49ers won’t let that happen without a fight. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune tweets that San Francisco is making a “late push” to retain their defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator. Woods has coached in the NFL since 2004, and he served as the Broncos defensive coordinator between 2017 and 2018.
  • Speaking of the Browns, head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that three assistants will be sticking around next season (via the team’s website): special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, assistant special teams coach Doug Colman and run game coordinator/running backs coach Stump Mitchell.

Latest On Browns, George Paton

Jan. 22: Paton’s second interview with the Browns will take place today, per Nate Ulirch of the Akron Beacon Journal (via Twitter). Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com, who first reported that Paton was flying to Cleveland today, said we could have a resolution in the next couple of days (Twitter link).

Jan. 20: George Paton has moved to the front of the Browns’ GM search, with the Minnesota-to-Cleveland pairing of Paton-Kevin Stefanski looking like the next Browns power structure.

But the longtime Vikings executive will meet with Browns brass one more time, doing so later this week, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. With the Vikings since 2007, Paton has been selective about his GM future over the past several years. He’s turned down multiple teams’ offers since 2017, so it would certainly be interesting to see Rick Spielman‘s top lieutenant jump ship to one of the NFL’s least stable franchises.

Initially, Paton paused on taking a Browns interview because of the prospect of an Andrew Berry reunion, Cabot adds. But the prospect of working with Stefanski enticed him to take the meeting.

Berry was a Browns exec from 2016-18, coming aboard when Jimmy Haslam brought in Sashi Brown and current chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta to run a new-age front office. But Paton’s first Browns meeting obviously went quite well, and he appears to be leading a field that includes Berry and Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort.

Paton’s Vikings tenure overlapped with Stefanski’s. The new Browns HC also became acquainted with Berry during the John Dorsey-led coaching search that led to Freddie Kitchens taking over. Berry then joined the Eagles’ front office. But a Minneapolis East setup may be the latest in a long line of power structures under Haslam.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Odell Beckham Jr. Undergoes Surgery

Odell Beckham Jr. struggled for much of the 2019 season. Although part of the former Pro Bowler’s issues stemmed from a shaky rapport with Baker Mayfield amid a tough season for the Freddie Kitchens-led offense, Beckham dealt with core muscle discomfort.

It was not certain whether Beckham was set for surgery, but he took care of that issue early in the offseason. The Browns announced their highest-paid player underwent core surgery on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Beckham spent much of this season not running in practice until Fridays. He also dealt with a hip injury but played in all 16 Browns games. OBJ finished with his worst full-season stat line — 74 receptions, 1,035 yards, four touchdowns — and one that was worse than his 12-game showing with the 2018 Giants.

The 27-year-old standout did not participate in most of the Browns’ offseason program last year, but with Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer noting Beckham should be expected to recover by late March, he would be on track to be ready for all or part of Cleveland’s OTAs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Let Several Staffers Go

Since former Mississippi State coworker Joe Judge landed the Giants‘ HC job, Freddie Kitchens has been linked to a staff position. A report circulated Tuesday indicating Judge will hire Kitchens for an unspecified role (Twitter link via AL.com), but ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan tweets nothing is finalized between the Giants and the former Browns coach. The Giants have hired a quarterbacks coach, Jerry Schuplinski, but certainly could add the longtime offensive assistant in another capacity.

  • While the Kitchens hire is not yet certain, veteran secondary coach Jerome Henderson will be joining Judge’s Giants staff, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Most recently the Falcons’ DBs coach/defensive passing-game coordinator, the 50-year-old Henderson has also coached the Jets’, Browns’ and Cowboys’ secondaries dating back to 2008. Henderson was a 1991 first-round pick who played eight NFL seasons.
  • The Giants will also add Jody Wright to their staff, according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman (Twitter link). Wright worked with Judge at Mississippi State in the 2000s and was most recently an offensive assistant with the Browns under Kitchens in 2019. Wright also spent time at Alabama during the 2010s and was an assistant head coach at UAB prior to relocating to Cleveland.
  • On the subject of the Browns, they are not retaining several Kitchens staffers. Most notably, Kevin Stefanski will not bring back quarterbacks coach Ryan Lindley, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Lindley, tight ends coach John Lilly, assistant defensive line coach John Parella and quality control staffers Deuce Schwartz, Tyler Tettleton and Alonso Escalante will not be back. Lindley, 30, served as Browns running backs coach after Kitchens was promoted to OC midway through the 2018 season, and the former quarterback held Cleveland’s QBs coach job this past season.
  • The Cardinals hired another recent Browns staffer, bringing in offensive assistant Jim Dray, Yates adds. A former Cardinals seventh-round pick in 2010 as a tight end, Dray played eight seasons — mostly in Arizona and Cleveland — and wound up with the Browns in 2019 as an offensive quality control coach.
  • Recently notified he was out in Cleveland, James Campen may have an opportunity with Carolina. The Panthers are interested in the former Browns offensive line coach, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. Campen was Mike McCarthy‘s offensive line coach from 2007-18 and spent 15 years as a Green Bay assistant prior to his Cleveland move last year. The Browns hired Bill Callahan to replace him on Monday.

Browns To Retain Stump Mitchell

  • With Bill Callahan set to become the Browns’ offensive line coach, the Giants’ search to fill this position continues. The team will bring in longtime Garrett assistant Marc Colombo for an interview, Jordan Raanan and Todd Archer of ESPN.com report (on Twitter). Colombo will interview on Tuesday, per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. Given that Colombo worked under Garrett from 2016-19 as Cowboys assistant O-line coach and then O-line coach, it would seem the ex-Cowboys lineman has a good chance of landing this job. The Giants had Callahan on their radar and also interviewed former Judge Pats coworker Dave DeGuglielmo for the position.
  • A Joe WoodsBrowns partnership looks to be on hold for the time being. While the former Broncos DC and current 49ers secondary coach is expected to become the next Browns DC, no agreement is expected until Super Bowl LIV’s conclusion, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. Woods and incumbent Steve Wilks were vying for the job, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer confirms a Woods-over-Wilks has been made.
  • The Browns will retain run-game coordinator Stump Mitchell, Cabot adds. Serving as running backs coach under Freddie Kitchens, Mitchell helped Nick Chubb to 1,494 rushing yards. Chubb’s seven 100-yard games were the most any Browns back has compiled in 51 years, matching Hall of Famer Leroy Kelly‘s 1968 total.
  • Kevin Stefanski is also considering retaining DBs coach DeWayne Walker, per Cabot. Walker is a holdover from the Hue Jackson staffs, initially joining the Browns in 2017 after four years as the Jaguars’ secondary coach.