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Browns, Eagles vying for Oregon’s Kelly
CLEVELAND (AP) - The Browns figured they could close a deal with Chip Kelly over dinner.
That was before the Eagles took Oregon’s coach to a lengthy lunch.
Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner spent much of Saturday waiting for a second meeting with Kelly, the Ducks’ offensive mastermind, to hopefully finalize an agreement to make him the Browns’ sixth full-time coach since 1999.
However, Kelly decided to keep a scheduled interview with Philadelphia that lasted longer than expected and carried into the night, delaying the Browns’ second chance at signing college football’s hottest coach.
Kelly and his representatives had met Haslam and Banner for a reported seven hours in Arizona on Friday. They came close to reaching a deal, but the sides parted company without a financial agreement with signs pointing toward Kelly leaning toward joining the Browns.
Kelly also met with the Buffalo Bills on Friday, and he decided to keep his appointment with the Eagles, who had briefly pulled their interest in pursuing 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.
Banner spent 19 seasons with Philadelphia, the past 12 as president, but left the club last year and has had a falling out with Lurie, a longtime friend.
Kelly nearly jumped to the pros last year with Tampa Bay but decided at the last minute to return to Oregon, where he has been coach since 2009.
As of 1 a.m. on Sunday, it was still unclear where Kelly wound wind up _ Cleveland, Philadelphia or back at Oregon.
NFL.com reported that the Browns met with Syracuse’s Doug Marrone for a second time on Saturday as the Eagles talked to Kelly. The report said the Browns are trying to decide if they prefer Kelly or Marrone.
It’s still possible the Browns will get Kelly, but it may have been harder than they thought it would be 24 hours ago.
Haslam and Banner plan to hire a coach before they seek a general manager to pair with him. The Browns have also promised that their next coach will have final say and control over the club’s 53-man roster, perks that will likely limit their talent pool when looking for a GM or pro personnel director.
Kelly went 46-7 in four years at Oregon, where his high-tempo, warp-speed offense averaged nearly 50 points per game this season. He has no pro coaching experience, but some of his offensive principles are being used by New England and Washington.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
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