CLEVELAND – Chip Kelly wouldn’t jump. So the Browns bailed.
Oregon’s visor-wearing coach isn’t coming to Cleveland – or the NFL.
A person familiar with Cleveland’s coaching search said the team passed on Kelly after he was indecisive about making the leap to the pros. The Browns nearly had a deal with Kelly two days ago, but they’ve moved on to other candidates, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because of the sensitivity of the search.
The Browns questioned whether Kelly “was committed to coming to the NFL,” said the person. And because of his hesitation, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner returned from Arizona to Cleveland to continue looking for the club’s sixth fulltime coach since 1999.
As it turns out, Kelly is staying at Oregon, a person with direct knowledge of his choice told the AP late Sunday night.
Kelly’s decision was first reported by ESPN.
Following Thursday night’s Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State, Kelly said he hoped to have the interview process “wrapped up quickly.” He spent two days interviewing with Cleveland, Buffalo and Philadelphia before deciding to remain at Oregon.
It’s the second straight year Kelly has entertained overtures from NFL teams only to reject them. He turned down Tampa Bay’s job deep into negotiations last season. Kelly will go back to Oregon, where he has built the fast-flying Ducks into a national powerhouse. Oregon is 46-7 the past four seasons with four BCS bowl games under the offensive innovator.
With Kelly no longer in play, the Browns will consider some of the candidates they’ve already met with or maybe begin a second wave of interviews. Haslam and Banner spent most of last week in Arizona and are known to have spoken to former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Syracuse’s Doug Marrone and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien.
Marrone accepted Buffalo’s coaching job Sunday, three people familiar with the negotiations told The AP. O’Brien decided to stay with the Nittany Lions.
Marrone will replace Chan Gailey, who was fired Dec. 31, a day after the Bills closed their second consecutive season with a 6-10 record and extended the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to 13 seasons. The 48-year-old Marrone, who is from the Bronx, went 25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse.
ESPN.com first reported early Sunday that Marrone would be leaving the Orange to become the Bills’ next coach.
Gamble front-runner in Jets’ GM search: At New York, the Jets were moving forward with their search for a new general manager, with San Francisco 49ers executive Tom Gamble appearing to be the front-runner to replace Mike Tannenbaum.
Gamble, the 49ers’ director of player personnel, met with the Jets over the weekend. He also canceled a second interview with Jacksonville and postponed a meeting with San Diego for their GM vacancies, according to published reports.
New York also spoke with Atlanta director of player personnel David Caldwell this weekend.
The Jets were still expected to interview Marc Ross, the Giants’ director of college scouting, and in-house candidate Scott Cohen, the team’s assistant GM under Tannenbaum. The meeting with Ross will satisfy the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which mandates that teams must interview at least one minority candidate for front-office and head coaching jobs.
But Gamble seemed to have the clear edge as of Sunday night.