Jimmy Haslam wasn’t happy. That much is obvious to Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi and anyone paying attention to what happened Tuesday inside Browns headquarters.
Whether it was two frustrating coaching searches in two offseasons, questionable talent evaluation or Banner’s sometimes abrasive personality, Haslam had seen enough. And the decision to fire Banner as CEO and Lombardi as GM seems to have been percolating for awhile.
In the aftermath of the stunning front office shakeup, more details emerged Wednesday to provide context to Haslam blowing up the front office that had one season together. Haslam avoided giving reasons Tuesday during a news conference, only saying he wanted to “streamline” the organizational structure.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman reported Wednesday the Browns sought out Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells.
Several sources told Freeman that Haslam wanted Parcells to run the team. Parcells told Bleacher Report in an email he talked to the Browns but no job offer was made and the talk was “only about how I believe organizations succeed and others fail.”
If Haslam wanted Parcells to work for him, it would’ve been in place of Banner. In the reorganization announced Tuesday, there is no CEO. New general manager Ray Farmer will lead the football department and retained president Alec Scheiner will run the business side. They and new coach Mike Pettine will report directly to Haslam.
The ouster of Banner was the most shocking news from Tuesday. He had been selected by Haslam to oversee every part of the organization, yet was deemed replaceable 16 months later.
Banner’s role as head of the football department must’ve been a factor. He wasn’t a former player or a former scout, yet wanted a chance to make the critical roster decisions. And Haslam gave it to him.
Talent evaluators around the league didn’t think he would succeed, but Banner embraced the opportunity to prove his critics wrong. He believed he was smart enough to overcome the lack of hands-on experience judging talent and build a Super Bowl contender.
After more missteps than successes, he won’t get the chance to see his vision to its conclusion. Neither will Lombardi, who was hired by Banner to do the legwork and give him the information necessary to make the big decisions.
“We looked at putting the best people in place, took a step back and said, ‘For us to be successful, what’s the org chart need to look like?” Haslam said. “What are the key boxes and who goes in those boxes?’ That’s the decision we made. Those are not easy decisions. We feel Ray gives us a great chance to be successful in free agency and the draft.”
Haslam’s motivation went beyond one reason. He clashed with Banner when it came to hiring Pettine or waiting for Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King relayed a pair of revealing anecdotes in a column Wednesday.
As Haslam and Banner began to interview Ken Whisenhunt for the second straight year, Whisenhunt asked: “Why didn’t you guys hire me last year?” Banner told Whisenhunt he didn’t think the staff he was putting together at the time was “a championship coaching staff.”
“Who are you to tell me what makes up a championship coaching staff?” Whisenhunt said, with an edge in his voice, King wrote, citing a source.
The story validates the perception that Banner — and likely Lombardi, too — turned off potential coaching candidates. Whisenhunt didn’t trust Banner to be his boss.
King also wrote that New England coach Bill Belichick and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer gave strong recommendations for fired Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano. Banner wasn’t interested, while Haslam was intrigued. At the interview, King reported, Banner was cold to Schiano and didn’t participate much in the interview.
Haslam dropped a bomb Tuesday with the firings, but it seems like the explosion was building inside of him for a while.
Haden talks contract
Negotiations to extend cornerback Joe Haden’s contract continued Tuesday, a league source confirmed. The source added a new deal isn’t imminent.
Haden originally told WTAM’s Andre Knott in December that an extension was being discussed. That it continued with Banner gone is a good sign something will get done.
Haden will enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2014. He’s due the last $6.7 million of a five-year, $42.2 million deal.
Weeden wants out?
Quarterback Brandon Weeden wants a fresh start with another team, NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported, citing two sources close to Weeden.
“Given the turmoil with the coaching staff and lack of public support from the most recent front office, he’s interested in a fresh start with a clean slate and an opportunity to compete to show he has the talent to develop into a productive player in the league,” Silver reported Tuesday.
Weeden’s opinion might not matter, as he’s expected to be traded or released. Weeden struggled in his two seasons, and the Browns have veteran Brian Hoyer and are expected to draft a quarterback.
Weeden didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
Farmer made his first roster move as a GM on Wednesday, signing cornerback Royce Adams.
Adams (5-foot-10, 187 pounds) is a native of South Euclid. He played at Glenville High School before transferring to St. Ed’s.
He was undrafted out of Purdue and spent 2012 on injured reserved with the Jets with a knee injury when Pettine was New York’s defensive coordinator. He was in camp with the Jets in 2013.
Adams played in the Arena Football League in 2011.