It has been a tumultuous month for the Cleveland Browns as they finish off a season that went from promising to disappointment. As we head into Week 17 of the 2019 season, sources have informed Pro Football Network Insiders Ben Allbright and Tony Pauline of a number of different situations arising behind the scenes regarding owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, general manager John Dorsey, and head coach Freddie Kitchens. This new information comes several weeks after PFN first reported of an internal rift within the organization.
Numerous scenarios are on the table for Browns ownership
In this week’s playoff edition of the College Football Live Blog, Pauline had some news to share in the 5:10 PM update regarding the current situation the team finds themselves in. According to Pauline, rumors have been running rampant all day as to what may happen in Cleveland with the Browns next week. Throughout the day, he learned of several updates from a number of sources including:
- Dorsey’s return next year is not a guarantee, and several people feel he could be a casualty of the 2019 season and be fired next week. While this is a possibility, everyone Pauline spoke with feels it would be a mistake to fire Dorsey, something he agrees with.
- If Kitchens is retained, he will have to relinquish the play-calling duties. Several scenarios, including bringing in a new offensive coordinator to call plays, were laid out to Pauline.
- Another scenario is a compromise between Dorsey and Haslam, where Kitchens is fired, and the team hires a new head coach. Several people threw around the name of Mike McCarthy as a definite possibility.
The dispute over who will be the head coach
On December 13th, a joint report from Allbright and Pauline stated that Haslam was considering a change at the head coach position. The likeliest way to avoid that scenario would have required that the Browns win out, which they clearly have not. However, Dorsey was in favor of keeping Kitchens in place for at least the 2020 season.
This report was further detailed during a podcast episode of PFN Draft Insiders with Pauline and Andy Herman. Pauline talked about how sources told him that there are simply “too many egos in the building” and how Dorsey and Kitchens are “two peas in a pod.”
The conversation around the Browns, including Pauline’s thoughts on QB Baker Mayfield, begins at the 14:25 mark and ends at 27:16. You can listen to the podcast via the player at the end of this article, or you can search PFN Draft Insiders on your favorite podcast player. If neither one of those work for you, you can check out the episode post with more details.
How different will the Browns look in 2020?
A more recent report from Allbright in the PFN Black Monday Tracker suggested that the situation behind the scenes has become more complex. According to Allbright, DePodesta was making a push to have his voice heard within the organization.
DePodesta’s suggestions have been overlooked twice before, once when he wanted to hire Sean McDermott and the second when he wanted to hire Kevin Stefanski. Both times, owner Jimmy Haslam chose someone different for the head coach position, Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchens, respectively.
Allbright is also hearing that Browns’ co-owner, Dee Haslam, has thrown herself into the mix. Rumors would suggest that she is also of the opinion the team should move on from Kitchens, with Josh McDaniels the preferred head coaching candidate, while Dorsey remains firmly behind Kitchens.
Another interesting aspect of this story is the involvement of Urban Meyer. Meyer has recently served as a consultant to the Washington Redskins, Colorado State, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. It would now appear the Browns have also requested his advice.
Despite all of the reports coming out of Cleveland, Jimmy Haslam is sensitive to the reputation that the Browns have of being an unstable franchise. All of this could play a role in the ultimate direction the Haslams choose to move forward with after the conclusion of the 2019 season.
For the latest news and rumors from around the league (Head Coaches, Coordinators, General Managers) make sure to follow our Black Monday Tracker. We will continue to monitor the situation and update as more news becomes available.