Doug Marrone is set to try to turn around an NFL team after improving a college program down the road.
Marrone reached an agreement to become the Buffalo Bills’ coach Sunday, three people familiar with the negotiations told the AP. One person said the sides were still putting the finishing touches on the contract for Marrone to sign.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because there has not been an official announcement.
Marrone will replace Chan Gailey, who was fired Dec. 31, a day after the Bills closed their second consecutive season with a 6-10 record and extended the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to 13 seasons. The 48-year-old Marrone, who is from the Bronx, went 25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse.
ESPN.com first reported early Sunday that Marrone would be leaving the Orange to become the Bills’ next coach.
Syracuse was 26-57 over a seven-year period before Marrone took over at his alma mater. The Orange finished this season 8-5, winning six of their last seven games, including a 38-14 victory over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl.
A person who had a role in hiring Marrone at Syracuse, speaking on condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced, said Orange officials had been made aware the coach was leaving for the NFL.
Now, he’s set for another challenge two hours down the New York State Thruway. He’ll be taking over a team that has not had a winning record since 2004, is on its fifth head coach since 2001, and closed this season by losing seven of 10 games.
The Syracuse job was Marrone’s first as a head coach. He has seven years of NFL experience; Marrone spent 2006-08 as the New Orleans Saints’ offensive coordinator and was the New York Jets’ offensive line coach from 2002-05.
Kelly staying at Oregon
Chip Kelly won’t be bringing his visor or high-powered offense to the NFL. He’s staying at Oregon.
A person with knowledge of the decision confirmed that Kelly is passing up a chance to coach in the pros to remain with the Ducks. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Oregon and Kelly haven’t formally announced the decision.
The decision was first reported by ESPN.
Kelly had lengthy interviews this weekend with the Browns and Eagles, and also talked to the Bills. Last year, he had talks with Tampa Bay.
Kelly, 49, earned a base salary of $2.8 million this season at Oregon and has five years left on his contract. The Ducks, known for the innovative offense that Kelly devised, beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl Thursday night to finish the season 12-1.
Oregon has gone 46-7 the last four seasons under Kelly and made four straight appearances in BCS bowl games.
After Kelly met with the Browns for seven hours Friday, it appeared he was headed to Cleveland. The Eagles even decided to leave Arizona after they were informed a deal between the Browns and Kelly was imminent. However, Kelly wanted to keep a scheduled interview with the Eagles and the team returned and reportedly spent nine hours with him Saturday.
A person familiar with Cleveland’s coaching search said the team passed on Kelly after he was indecisive about making the leap to the pros.
Meanwhile, the Eagles confirmed they had scheduled an interview with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Sunday.
Jets taking a Gamble?
The Jets were moving forward with their search for a new general manager, with 49ers executive Tom Gamble appearing to be the front-runner to replace Mike Tannenbaum. Gamble, the 49ers’ director of player personnel, met with the Jets over the weekend. He also canceled a second interview with Jacksonville and postponed a meeting with the Chargers for their GM vacancies, according to published reports. New York also spoke with Atlanta director of player personnel David Caldwell this weekend. The Jets were still expected to interview Marc Ross, the Giants’ director of college scouting, and in-house candidate Scott Cohen, the team’s assistant GM under Tannenbaum . . . ESPN reported the Bears have received permission to interview offensive coordinators Rick Dennison (Texans) and Darrell Bevell (Seahawks) for their vacant head coaching position.