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 general manager Tom Heckert and 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.
From long-time Browns beat writer Tony Grossi: Banner will oversee football operations and, we’ve been told by sources, will name Lombardi to a glorified player personnel director position.
As far as the coaching front once that happens, Grossi names the targets: Saban (long shot), Kelly (long shot because he can demand personnel control if he wants) and McDaniels.
Independently, Saban, who has built a national powerhouse at Alabama, is believed to be Haslam’s first choice to coach the Browns. ... There is one rumor that Haslam is prepared to offer Saban a $100 million deal over 10 years to coach the Browns. ....Two sources who know Saban have told me that Saban is leaning toward staying at Alabama and if he ever sought to scratch that NFL itch again, it would not be in Cleveland.
In my job, I don't really care what happens with Saban and Kelly, but the McDaniels situation is certainly interesting.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer also had this to say about McDaniels and the Browns:
A source told The Plain Dealer that McDaniels, who coached the Broncos in 2009, would jump at the chance to coach the Browns.
Would he leave after just one season? Yes, if it was the right situation. A Banner-Lombardi-McDaniels trio, McDaniels being a born-and-bred Ohioan, and 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 at offensive coordinator? 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 last 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.