Eliot Wolf

Latest On Browns’ Coaching & GM Search

The Browns have their new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, but they still need a new GM after firing John Dorsey. They recently requested an interview with Eagles exec Andrew Berry, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweets that he’s “at the front of the GM candidates.”

Robinson notes that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam once said he considered Berry a future GM, and that he has a relationship with chief strategist Paul DePodesta. In a separate tweet, Robinson explains that it may come down to whether or not Berry wants to take the job. He notes that Berry, who used to work in Cleveland under former GM Sashi Brown, is only 32 and in a good situation in Philly. He also writes that Berry will likely get other calls if he passes on the job.

As for the search that ultimately ended in Stefanski, Robinson has some interesting new nuggets. He tweets that Josh McDanielswanted a specific structure with the Browns” and that he “wasn’t going to an org where DePodesta or anyone else was a ‘side jury’ reporting to Haslam.” If that’s the case, then it sounds like McDaniels never got too close to landing in Cleveland despite his lengthy visit. The Browns and Haslam have caught plenty of flak for their odd reporting structures, and it sounds like that was an issue once again this time around. 

Robinson also tweets that both Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh “had very good interviews” and that he thinks they were the finalists along with Stefanski. Both should be hot names during next cycle. As for Stefanski’s staff, Robinson tweets that the rookie head coach will likely target either Gary or Klint Kubiak. The Kubiaks were on staff with Stefanski in Minnesota, although Robinson thinks the Vikings will try to retain both. Either could be a candidate to be Cleveland’s new OC assuming Stefanski hires one.

Finally, Robinson tweeted about the future prospects for assistant GM Eliot Wolf and VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith. He thinks the Haslams are open to both staying, and that Wolf will have a conversation with whoever the new GM is about a role.

Browns’ Next GM Will Come From Outside Organization

The Browns are planning to retain chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, and Eliot Wolf remains in place as assistant GM. But the franchise plans to look outside its current power structure to find its next GM.

Jimmy Haslam indicated Thursday that John Dorsey‘s replacement will be an outside hire, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). The Browns plan to first hire their head coach, which will determine where they go with the GM role, Haslam added (via ESPN.com’s Jake Trotter). However, the Browns’ new head coach will not have final say over which GM candidate is hired, Cabot notes.

Cleveland’s new HC and GM will each report to Haslam, which was the setup when Hue Jackson and Sashi Brown were in power. Haslam added that the GM will oversee the 53-man roster, which flies in the face of rumors that the new Browns HC would obtain more power. The Browns’ new HC must be more analytically inclined, with Haslam indicating (via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal) a “tremendous opportunity” exists for the Browns to be better than they were in this area under Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens.

Wolf will remain in his assistant GM role, per Haslam. This poses an interesting setup, given a new regime’s imminent arrival. The longtime Packers exec joined former Green Bay coworker Dorsey last year and has been a GM candidate in the past. DePodesta will run the coaching search, but the former MLB GM-turned-fifth-year Browns exec will not rise in the team’s front office hierarchy.

Paul’s’ job will stay exactly the same as it is now,” Haslam said, via Ulrich. “He is in charge of strategy. He reports to ownership. Nothing will change. … We think Paul is really good at this type of position [in the searches]. If you think about it, all he has done his whole adult life is gather data to help make good decisions, so we think he is ideally suited to lead this process.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Considering Mike McCarthy-Eliot Wolf Pairing

Despite John Dorsey and the Browns parting ways, assistant GM Eliot Wolf remains in his position. And the Browns are considering pairing him with another former Packers coworker.

Mike McCarthy will be the Browns’ first HC interview, with Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer noting the longtime Green Bay coach will meet with the Browns on Thursday. The Browns, who have gone through numerous front office structures under Jimmy Haslam, are considering a McCarthy-Wolf power structure, Cabot adds.

Wolf was in Green Bay for each of McCarthy’s nine playoff appearances as Packers coach, working with the Packers from 2004-17. The final four of those years featured Wolf as either the Packers’ director of player personnel or director of football operations. The second-generation NFL executive left for Cleveland in 2018, when former Packers exec Dorsey joined as Browns GM. The Browns appear to be considering a promotion for the son of Hall of Fame exec Ron Wolf. Eliot Wolf has interviewed for GM jobs in the past, and he may be back on the radar — despite the latest upheaval at Browns headquarters.

McCarthy, 56, has already interviewed with the Panthers and will meet with the Giants this weekend. He was on the Browns’ radar during the 2019 hiring period but did not meet with team brass. The Browns ended the 2010s with seven head coaches and are obviously hoping for some semblance of stability entering the next decade.

Several other candidates are on the Browns’ HC radar. Josh McDaniels, Eric Bieniemy, Greg Roman, Kevin Stefanski and 49ers assistants Robert Saleh, Mike McDaniel and Matt LaFleur. Baylor head coach Matt Rhule turned down the opportunity to interview with the Browns.

Cleveland’s next head coach may need to make a greater commitment to analytics, with Cabot adding that Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta is planning to incorporate more analytical concepts into the team’s game plans. This blueprint did not appear to be a hit with Dorsey or Freddie Kitchens, with a source informing Cabot it only complicated matters further for an “in over his head” Kitchens.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ Front Office

The Browns’ disappointing season produced the firing of Freddie Kitchens and prompted Jimmy Haslam to approach John Dorsey about stripping his power. That led to the constantly retooling franchise having another GM vacancy. The Haslams confirmed the 2019 Browns’ underachievement helped lead to Dorsey departing.

While John helped greatly improve our team’s talent and we are excited about the core players on our roster, we fully recognized that our team did not meet its potential on or off the field and additional changes in leadership give us the best opportunity for success in the future,” Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in a statement. “As the role of the general manager continues to evolve in this league we felt there were areas that needed to be reassessed. Over the last 48 hours, we’ve had discussion with John about his role but could not come to an agreement on a position that would enable him to remain with the organization.”

The Browns have now gone through five GMs or de facto GMs during Haslam’s seven-plus-year tenure. They will be looking for No. 6, along with a seventh head coach under current ownership.

Here is the latest on the state of the Browns’ front office:

  • It is not certain Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta will survive a second regime change during his tenure, but that looks to be the case. Former football operations boss Sashi Brown‘s right-hand man, DePodesta stayed on during Dorsey’s run and is now playing a key role helping Jimmy Haslam find the Browns’ next head coach. The former MLB GM is taking a “very heavy hand” in Cleveland’s latest coaching search, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link).
  • DePodesta, however, is not necessarily in charge. The fourth-year executive is not currently running the football operation, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This does beg the question as to who exactly is running things at this point.
  • Top responsibility may now fall on assistant GM Eliot Wolf. Although Wolf came aboard shortly after Dorsey did and worked with Dorsey in Green Bay as well, the second-generation NFL exec is still a part of Cleveland’s front office, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. That could certainly change soon, once a new GM or head coach with GM powers arrives in Berea.
  • Dorsey received a nice exit package from the Browns. The two-time NFL GM will walk away with two years’ severance, according to Pelissero (on Twitter). This marks the second time in three years Dorsey will be on the market, with the Chiefs having fired him during the summer of 2017.

Browns Rumors: Mayfield, Haley, Ward

While the Baker Mayfield/Browns noise didn’t intensify until draft week, the newly assembled front office viewed the Oklahoma product well independently before arriving in Cleveland. John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf and consultant Scot McCloughan all had Mayfield atop the quarterback class, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes, with Alonzo Highsmith subsequently joining them. Using the Packers’ grading system the Browns do now, Dorsey, Wolf and McCloughan — who has long praised the 2017 Heisman Trophy recipient — each put Mayfield atop their respective lists prior to coming to Cleveland. While a report emerged earlier this week indicating Sam Darnold may well have been more teams’ top-rated QB in this class, Cabot reports four teams — three AFC squads and one in the NFC — had Mayfield as this class’ No. 1 quarterback. Two other teams, per Cabot, provided strong indications he was their top QB choice.

Here’s the latest from Cleveland, including more about the Browns’ signal-caller situation.

  • While the Browns are certainly higher on Mayfield than they were on DeShone Kizer or Cody Kessler, the memories of neither rookie winning a game are still fresh with Hue Jackson. And he reiterated this weekend he’s not going to deviate from Tyrod Taylor atop the QB depth chart. “I’m not going to back off of this,” Jackson said, via Cabot. “We can keep writing this narrative, Tyrod Taylor’s the starting quarterback of this football team, and that won’t change. … Tyrod has demonstrated every day what it’s like to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League. I want some of that to rub off on (Mayfield) so he can see firsthand what it means to play quarterback in the National Football League. Baker doesn’t know.”
  • The Browns had close to the same grade on Mayfield and Saquon Barkley, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes. While this could mean the Browns placed a slightly higher grade on the Penn State-produced running back, Dorsey felt the need at quarterback and the fact he could land a promising running back prospect in the second round (Nick Chubb went to Cleveland at No. 35) tipped the scales for Mayfield. Cleveland was long connected to a quarterback at No. 1, and Barkley was not believed to be a serious consideration.
  • Todd Haley‘s arrival in northeast Ohio will mean full autonomy of the Browns’ offense, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes. Both Jackson and Mayfield will spend time this summer learning Haley’s playbook. Jackson will be taking a CEO-style approach this year instead of calling plays, as he has the past two seasons. But it still sounds like some of the third-year HC’s concepts will be included in Haley’s offense.
  • The Browns had Denzel Ward and Bradley Chubb ranked equally on their board, and need won out, Dorsey said during a radio interview on 92.3 The Fan (via Cabot). Ward’s ability to play press coverage well made him DC Gregg Williams‘ preference, too.

Browns Hire Exec Eliot Wolf

The Browns are hiring Packers executive Eliot Wolf, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Browns confirmed that Wolf will be hired as the second-in-command under GM John Dorsey with the title of assistant GM. Eliot Wolf

Wolf was in the running for the Packers’ GM job following Ted Thompson‘s retirement, but the team opted to promote co-worker Brian Gutekunst instead. After Wolf was passed over, he found himself with three options – remain with the Packers (possibly with an improved title), join up with Jon Gruden‘s Raiders, or head to Cleveland to work under Dorsey. He ultimately chose the Browns – a team with just one win in the last two seasons, but tons of cap flexibility and draft capital to work with. Dorsey’s close relationship with Wolf’s father, Ron Wolf, also helped matters.

It’s a four-year deal for Wolf and the Browns, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). There’s no word yet on whether he’ll have the flexibility to leave if a GM position presents itself, but I would imagine that it does. Wolf was blocked from GM consideration by the Packers on multiple occasions and the 35-year-old does not want to get stonewalled again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Interview Packers Exec Eliot Wolf

The Raiders have an interview scheduled for this week with Packers executive Eliot Wolf, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Twitter link). Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reported earlier today that Oakland has an offer on the table for Wolf, who’s also being courted by the Browns.Eliot Wolf (vertical)

Wolf is now being torn between Green Bay and two organizations where Packers ties run deep. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie was a long-time Green Bay executive before coming to Oakland, while Browns GM John Dorsey also worked with the Packers and has already poached personnel man Alonzo Highsmith from Green Bay. McKenzie, who said he hopes to bring in Wolf Wednesday or Thursday, seemingly acknowledged Wolf’s leverage to Gehlken.

 “I know him,” McKenzie said. “Ain’t got to interview much. I want him to see what’s happening and see if he wants to be a part of what we’re doing.”

Wolf, 35, has a contract with Green Bay, meaning the club could technically block him from taking another job. But new Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said yesterday that he has no intention of doing so, even though he’d like to retain Wolf as his “right-hand man.” “We have a great relationship, Gutekunst said. “I’m very fond of the person, and the scout is excellent. I’ve told him that. I really want him to be here. But I also know he has other opportunities, and I wouldn’t hold him back from that because I care about him.”

It’s unclear exactly how much power either Wolf or McKenzie will have in Oakland in the near future. At his introductory press conference earlier today, new Raiders head coach Jon Gruden indicated he and McKenzie will share control of the club’s roster.

Raiders Make Offer To Eliot Wolf

Eliot Wolf didn’t get the Packers’ GM job, but he remains a popular man around the league. Wolf has an offer to join the Raiders’ front office, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Eliot Wolf (vertical)

Wolf is currently in Cleveland, where he is interviewing with GM John Dorsey. Meanwhile, the Packers and newly-promoted GM Brian Gutekunst want to retain the 35-year-old, but they will not stand in the way of him going elsewhere in the NFL.

Wolf is obviously blocked from taking the top job in Oakland or Cleveland, but he might be able to eek out a better salary from those clubs and exercise more authority over the scouting department than he would in Green Bay. If he does join either one of those teams, it’s a safe bet that he’ll demand a contract with the ability to interview for any GM opportunity that comes his way.

In the past, the Packers kept Wolf from opportunities with the Eagles and Lions. After being made to pass up those jobs only to get passed over, Wolf does not want to wind up in the same position again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Won’t Stop Eliot Wolf From Leaving

Eliot Wolf missed out on the Packers’ GM job, but it sounds like the team won’t stop him from going elsewhere. During his introductory news conference on Monday, newly appointed GM Brian Gutekunst hinted that he will allow Wolf to pursue other jobs in the NFL, though he would prefer to keep him in Green Bay. 

I would envision him kind of being a right-hand man to me,” Gutekunst said. We have a great relationship. I’m very fond of the person, and the scout is excellent. I’ve told him that. I really want him to be here. But I also know he has other opportunities, and I wouldn’t hold him back from that because I care about him. But if he was here, I’d like to get him more involved in the college side of stuff and have a broader approach to what he’s been doing.”

The Browns, led by former Packers exec John Dorsey, are reportedly interested in adding Wolf to the front office. At the same time, the Packers appear to be offering him an improved title.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Rumors: Wolf, Gutekunst, FA

An offer for a prominent Packers job is on the table for Eliot Wolf, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (on Twitter), but it’s uncertain he accepts it at this point. Before the sides can progress on a deal, the 35-year-old exec must determine if he wants to stay in Green Bay. Wolf was bypassed for this job after withdrawing his name from consideration for the 49ers’ GM position last year, and the Browns are expected to pursue him. Wolf worked with John Dorsey for several years before Dorsey became the Chiefs’ GM in 2013. New Green Bay GM Brian Gutekunst said Monday (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com) he wants Wolf to remain on staff but acknowledged executive has other opportunities.

Here’s more from Green Bay and the latest from the North divisions.

  • What could change for the Packers is their offseason approach. The Ted Thompson years involved scant free agency participation, but Gutekunst looks to have a more modern approach to player procurement. Gutekunst said the Packers will be active in free agency, at least participating in bidding for players they covet, and (via Silverstein, on Twitter) the new GM said this announcement excited the Packers’ staff. “We’re not going to leave any stone unturned in every avenue of player acquisition,” Gutekunst said, via Wes Hodkiewicz of Packers.com (Twitter link). “… Our foundation is going to be the draft, but [free agency] is an absolute must as an accessory piece. We’re not going to be able to sign every player, [but] we want to be in the know of everything that’s going on. We have to be prepared to pull the trigger.”
  • Gutekunst may not be making a change at head coach anytime soon. Signed last week to an extension that runs through 2019, Mike McCarthy doesn’t look to have lost any support as a result of this front office change. “We have a great relationship,” Gutekunst said today. “I have a ton of respect for him as a football coach and as a man.”
  • Team president Mark Murphy said (via Demovsky), however, if a decision is made to ultimately fire McCarthy, he will make it and be responsible for hiring his successor. Other than that, Murphy said he will not meddle in football decisions. Silverstein notes (via Twitter) the previous arrangement involved all football parties answering to Thompson whereas this one could leave some uncertainty with Gutekunst, McCarthy and Russ Ball each reporting to Murphy. Ball has been given a title bump and now has a more direct line to Murphy.
  • McCarthy’s comments last week about the next GM being a “good fit” may have been a shot at Thompson’s free agency-phobic tendencies, Silverstein writes, adding they also may have induced the Packers to contact the Seahawks about a John Schneider interview. While Seattle blocked that move, Silverstein notes McCarthy’s comments may have prompted Murphy to hire Gutekunst in order to see the team take a more proactive approach to stocking the roster in free agency. Silverstein writes Ball was expected to approach free agency like Thompson, his mentor, so this decision could be interpreted as McCarthy getting his way. While Gutekunst worked under Thompson throughout the latter’s tenure, Silverstein writes that other execs who received opportunities elsewhere — Schneider, Dorsey and Reggie McKenzie — were not shy about signing free agents.