Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe, citing two NFL sources, wrote “there is indeed fire behind that smoke,” referring to reports Lombardi could replace Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert after the season if the new regime decides to make a change.
Owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have repeatedly said they’ll spend the entire year evaluating all personnel and make decisions after the season.
Banner worked with Lombardi with the Eagles in 1997-98. He was with the Browns from 1987-95, starting as a scout and ascending to player personnel director.
Bedard added that Lombardi, who’s an analyst on NFL Network, could lure Alabama coach and former Browns defensive coordinator Nick Saban to Cleveland as coach.
“According to the NFL sources, Saban has let it be known that if he returns to the NFL — where he flopped, going 15-17 with the Dolphins from 2005-06 — it would likely be with Lombardi playing Pioli to his Belichick,” Bedard wrote.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick won three Super Bowls in New England with Scott Pioli as his GM. Belichick had final say on football matters, but relied on Pioli to run the personnel department.
If Saban stays at Alabama and the Browns hire Lombardi, Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be the next two coaching possibilities, Bedard reported.
Lombardi’s last job in an NFL front office was from 1999-2007 as Raiders senior personnel executive.
All 53 Browns practiced this week, meaning the seven inactives today were healthy scratches. There were no surprises on the list.
The Browns (4-8) play the Chiefs (2-10) at 1 p.m. at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Browns are looking for their first three-game winning streak since the end of the 2009 season.
The Cleveland inactives: receiver Josh Cooper, safety Eric Hagg, running back Brandon Jackson, cornerback Trevin Wade, fullback Owen Marecic, defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron and offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw.
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson is active for the first time since Week 5, missing seven games with a high ankle sprain. He is expected to return to his role as nickelback, pushing Buster Skrine to fourth cornerback.
Safety/special teamer Ray “Bubba” Ventrone is active after missing three games with a calf injury. Starting free safety Usama Young (concussion) returns after missing one game.
For the Chiefs, starting free safety Kendrick Lewis (shoulder) and backup Abram Elam (quadriceps) are inactive. Tysyn Hartman will start.
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