CLEVELAND (AP) — The interviews are over. The wait continues. The Browns are still coachless.
After meeting with eight candidates 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, will go head to head in what could be a final, live audition for the Browns. Two others, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, have playoff games Sunday.
Stefanski was a finalist a year ago and the 37-year-old is considered one of the league’s rising coaching stars. So is Saleh, and the fiery 40-year-old reportedly blew away the Browns during his meeting with them 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.
The Browns are also in the market for a new general manager to replaced John Dorsey, who brought talent to Cleveland but was dismissed after the season when he declined to accept a lesser role. Haslam wants his new coach to help pick his next GM.