ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported early this afternoon owner Jimmy Haslam and his contingent were flying back to Cleveland from Arizona “to reboot and restart” their search without Kelly.
“So Chip Kelly will not be the next Cleveland Browns coach,” Mortensen said on “Sunday NFL Countdown.”
According to reports, Kelly is choosing between staying at Oregon, where he’s 46-7 in four seasons, or joining the Philadelphia Eagles.
Losing Kelly is a huge blow to Haslam and CEO Joe Banner, who are conducting their first coaching search together after firing Pat Shurmur on Monday.
Kelly was reportedly their clear-cut first choice even before Shurmur was fired, and the Browns’ brass set up camp in Arizona all week as they waited for Kelly to coach the Ducks on Thursday night in the Fiesta Bowl.
They met with him for seven hours and Saturday and reports circulated they were close to a deal.
But he kept his scheduled meetings with Buffalo and Philadelphia. The Eagles kept him for nine hours Saturday, and it appears he never restarted serious negotiations with the Browns.
The Browns also lost out on Syracuse University’s Doug Marrone, who agreed to a deal with Buffalo early this morning. The Browns reportedly interviewed Marrone twice last week.
The Browns have not commented on their search and won’t confirm interviews.
They’ve also reportedly met with Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired as head coach of the Cardinals on Monday, and Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Mortensen also reported Haslam was impressed with Whisenhunt, who took the Cardinals to a Super Bowl.