On Dec. 9, after speaking to two influential NFL sources, I wrote that NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi was a serious candidate to be the next general manager of the Browns should owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner decide to part ways with current GM Tom Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur.
And if Lombardi was hired, Alabama coach Nick Saban would be the top target followed by Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
With the hiring of Alec Scheiner as Browns president on Tuesday, it looks like we’re a step closer to everything becoming reality.
Long-time Browns beat writer Tony Grossi reported for ESPN Cleveland that Banner is likely to name Lombardi “to a glorified player personnel director position.”
As far as the coaching front once that happens, Grossi said the Browns intend to target: Saban (long shot), Kelly (long shot because he can demand personnel control if he wants) and McDaniels.
Would McDaniels leave after just one season back in New England? Yes, if it was the right situation. A Banner-Lombardi-McDaniels trio, with McDaniels being a born-and-bred Ohioan and having a chance to rebuild where the Bill Belichick tree was first planted, would be factors that would likely get a blessing from Belichick.
What would the Patriots do? Wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea is the only viable candidate currently on the staff, and now three years into his Patriots tenure, the former college quarterback should be ready.
An outside (and probably long shot) candidate could be former tight ends coach Brian Ferentz, who spent this season as the offensive line coach for his father, Kirk, at Iowa.
One more log to throw on the fire: those two initial sources said that if Lombardi and McDaniels indeed team up in Cleveland, the chances are good that they will attempt to trade for Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and install him as the franchise quarterback. Brandon Weeden would be out, or in a backup role.