The interviews are over. The wait continues. The Browns are still coachless.
After meeting with eight candidates over the past two weeks, Cleveland still hasn’t decided on a choice for its next coach. The uncertainty could carry through another NFL playoff weekend for a team that began this year with big expectations and fired Freddie Kitchens after a 6-10 season.
Owner Jimmy Haslam and his search committee, guided by chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, met with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for seven hours Friday. But the six-time Super Bowl winner returned to Boston without being offered a job that he’s been connected with three times.
McDaniels was thought to be favored by Haslam, who has fired five coaches since buying the Browns in 2012. But at this point, there doesn’t seem to be any clear front-runner, and it’s possible the Browns could be waiting for Saturday’s playoff games to conclude before making their next move.
Two candidates, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, went head to head in what could be perceived as a final, live audition for the Browns job. Two others, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, have playoff games this weekend.
The Browns are hiring a coach before finding a new general manager to replace John Dorsey, who left after refusing to accept a lesser role. The team is already starting that process to find a new executive.
Cleveland requested permission to interview Indianapolis assistant general manager Ed Dodds and Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry for its GM vacancy, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press on Saturday.
The Browns could make other requests, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not publicly disclosing its plans.
Dodds, who has spent the past three seasons with the Colts, has history with Saleh. They worked together in Seattle from 2011-13 and won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks.
Berry previously worked with Cleveland as its vice president of player personnel after being with Indianapolis. He was essentially forced out by the Browns when Dorsey brought assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith in from Green Bay.
Haslam wants his new coach to have input in helping pick his next GM.
Stefanski was a finalist a year ago and the 37-year-old is considered one of the league’s rising coaching stars. So is the fiery Saleh, 40, who reportedly blew away the Browns during his meeting last week.
Per NFL rules, the Browns can’t officially hire a coach until his current team’s season ends, so it could be that the Browns are just in a holding pattern. They can reach an agreement with a candidate, but a contract can’t be signed.
Haslam and his group also interviewed Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy was the first candidate to meet with the Browns, but he was hired by Dallas.
Cowher gets Hall call
Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Cowher, an analyst for CBS, was surprised by the announcement made live on air in studio before the Titans-Ravens AFC divisional round playoff game Saturday night. Hall President and CEO David Baker delivered the news to Cowher during CBS’s “The NFL Today” pregame show broadcast.
“This isn’t right that this is happening right now, but ...” a grinning Cowher told Baker, who then officially welcomed the former coach into this year’s Hall of Fame class to be inducted this summer.
An emotional Cowher, 62, hugged Baker and then his wife, Veronica, and daughter, Meagan, who were standing off to the side of the set. The rest of Cowher’s CBS broadcast team, including James Brown, Nate Burleson, Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms, also gave him congratulatory hugs.
Cowher compiled an overall record of 161-99-1 with a .619 winning percentage as Steeleers coach for 15 seasons from 1992 to 2006, leading them to nine division titles, 10 playoff appearances, and a Super Bowl XL victory over Seattle.
“Football is a total team sport,” Cowher said while fighting back tears. “I had some great players, some great coaches, the best organization in football. I’ve lived a blessed life. I’ve come to the best network on TV. It’s a family here, like it was a family that we had there. And to have to give back just something to the game of football, that’s been a part of my life, the virtues that it teaches you, the morals that you have the obligation to move on, the platforms that we have, you know, I’m a blessed man and I’ve been very blessed to have been surrounded by some very special people.’’
A special panel met at the Hall in Canton, Ohio, on Wednesday to elect the centennial slate for this year’s class of inductees, marking the first time any members were elected during a selection meeting.
Lions add to staff
The Detroit Lions hired special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs, a week after firing special teams coordinator John Bonamego and five other members of Matt Patricia’s staff. Coombs was the assistant special teams coach for the Bengals the previous seven years and was with the franchise for 10 seasons . . . The Atlanta Falcons hired former Alabama defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi as defensive line and run game coordinator, focusing on defensive ends. Lupoi, who last season was defensive line coach for the Browns, spent 11 years at the college level, including five seasons on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama.