Josh McDaniels, Mike Lombardi emerging as likely candidates with Browns, according to report

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

With a new owner and CEO, the Browns will likely have two top management positions to fill this off-season, and according to a report, Mike Lombardi and Josh McDaniels could be the duo headed to Cleveland.

The Cleveland Browns may soon have open coaching and general manager positions, and Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland reports that Josh McDaniels and Mike Lombardi are a likely pair to fill the jobs. Lombardi's name has repeatedly come up as the next GM in Cleveland, and Grossi writes that he's the favorite to get the job, working alongside new CEO Joe Banner.

Tom Heckert is the current GM in Cleveland, and he's done an impressive job adding talent through the draft. Fans are clamoring for Heckert to stay on board under the new ownership structure. But that structure, with Banner now as CEO, would likely take away final decision-making over the roster. Grossi reports that Banner wants final say, and that Heckert's current position will become one of a "glorified personnel director" under the CEO. Heckert will be a commodity around the league, and he reportedly knew he was likely out as soon as Banner came aboard.

Lombardi, on the other hand, has been desperate to get back into the NFL and would likely yield to Banner's demands to have final say over the roster. Both have a solid relationship from their brief time together in Philadelphia.

With Lombardi emerging as a significant favorite to be the next GM, Grossi writes that McDaniels is likely to emerge as a favorite candidate for head coach. Pat Shurmur is almost certainly on his way out, and despite an improved second half, any faint hope of his return was likely wiped out after the Browns disappointing game against Mike Shanahan and the Redskins.

McDaniels is a member of the Belichick coaching family. Lombardi worked with Belichick in Cleveland and both are reportedly still close. McDaniels is also a Northeast Ohio native and Lombardi admires his work under Belichick, making the pairing a potential fit in Cleveland.

Two other names, Nick Saban and Chip Kelly, are described as unlikely candidates in the report. According to Grossi, Saban would be reluctant to work with Lombardi and Kelly would likely demand roster decision-making control -- power Banner would not cede to him.

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