On the 10th anniversary of their last playoff appearance, the Browns may be in unexpected fight over Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
Cleveland has been awaiting a second meeting with Kelly, the Ducks’ offensive mastermind, on Saturday to hopefully complete a deal to make him the Browns’ sixth fulltime coach since 1999. However, Kelly decided to keep a scheduled interview with the Philadelphia Eagles that carried into the night, delaying the Browns’ second chance at signing college football’s hottest coach.
Kelly and his representatives met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner for a reported seven hours in Arizona on Friday. They came close to reaching an agreement, but the sides parted company without a deal but with signs pointing toward Kelly leaning toward joining the Browns.
Kelly also met with the Buffalo Bills on Friday, and he decided to keep an appointment with the Eagles, who weren’t going to pursue the 49-year-old after they learned a deal between Kelly and Cleveland was near. It’s possible Kelly and his agent, David Dunn, are meeting with the other teams to gain leverage with the Browns and sweeten the coach’s contract.
But there’s also a chance Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman are making a hard push at Kelly to steal him away from the Browns. Banner spent 19 seasons with Philadelphia, the last 12 as president, but left the club last year and has had a falling out with Lurie, a longtime friend.
If Kelly turns the Browns down, they would still have several quality candidates to choose from. But not landing Kelly would be a major disappointment for Haslam and Banner in their initial search.
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