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Holmgren’s future in Cleveland remains cloudy

Mike Holmgren, Ruston Webster, Mike Reinfeldt AP

On Friday, Browns president Mike Holmgren said that questions regarding his future would be “answered down the road.”

The question is how far down the road will those questions be answered?

Per a source with knowledge of the front-office dynamics in Cleveland, the contents of Holmgren’s contract are a tightly-guarded secret.  It’s believed that the deal was negotiated directly by and between General Counsel Fred Nance, a former finalist for the position of Commissioner, and agent Bob LaMonte.  It’s also believed that only Nance, owner Randy Lerner, Holmgren, and agent Bob LaMonte know the terms, including whether Holmgren has a Parcells-style parachute that allows Holmgren to walk away with full pay upon a change of control.

Bill Parcells’ deal with the Dolphins provided the template for the “cash-and-carry” coach-turned-executive contract, which gave Parcells the ability to quit and receive the balance of his pay once Wayne Huizenga sold to Stephen Ross.  It would be a bit of a surprise, frankly, if Holmgren didn’t insist on a similar term when he agreed to become, in essence, a surrogate owner for Lerner, who by all appearances preferred to be an absentee landlord.

It doesn’t mean Holmgren will leave as soon as Lerner tosses the keys to truck-stop magnate Jimmy Haslam.  The reported involvement of former Eagles president Joe Banner could help persuade Holmgren to stay at least through the end of the 2012 season, given Holmgren’s and Banner’s mutual ties to Eagles coach Andy Reid, a former Holmgren assistant.

It’s also possible that Holmgren will renegotiate his current deal, like Parcells did after Ross bought the Dolphins.  Parcells had a 30-day window within which to pull the cord and pocket the money after the sale was finalized; he essentially parlayed that into a contract that gave him the ability to invoke the privilege at any point he wanted.

If Holmgren has a similar opening, he could try to do the same thing.

Of course, there’s no guarantee Haslam will agree to having the Big Show’s curtain constantly hanging over the new owner’s head.  Haslam could say, “You’re all in, or you’re all out.”  And then maybe Holmgren would choose to be all out.

Indeed, some believe Holmgren could be all out not long after Haslam takes over.  As Holmgren said, those questions will be answered down the road.  There’s a chance that the road won’t be very long, or very winding.

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18 Responses to “Holmgren’s future in Cleveland remains cloudy”
  1. tombrookshire says: Jul 28, 2012 10:34 AM

    Lerner prefers to own a soccer team? Wha?

  2. oilman989 says: Jul 28, 2012 11:09 AM

    Holmgren has been perpetually leaning on his Green Bay championship laurels and hasn’t contributed anything of significance since the Seahawks’ Super Bowl appearance almost a decade ago.

    In other words, in the world of NFL executives, experience somehow trumps competence. The Big Show has been a Big Flop in Cleveland, and Browns fans should embrace the pending change atop the organizational chart.

  3. brianjoates says: Jul 28, 2012 11:13 AM

    New ownership means cleaning house on the business side in Cleveand, get your resumes up to date Browns.

  4. raysfan1 says: Jul 28, 2012 11:17 AM

    The Browns are currently #30 most valuable sports franchise in the world and Ashton Villa is not in the top 50. However, 5 of the top 11 are soccer clubs, including the top 2. Take into account that soccer’s following is world-wide, and that Ashton Villa is in the English Premier League, and one could argue that the soccer club has the greater financial potential.

  5. Little Earthquake says: Jul 28, 2012 11:20 AM

    Anyone’s future would be cloudy in Cleveland.

  6. bartpkelly says: Jul 28, 2012 11:24 AM

    Holmgren has been there what now…2 or 3 years? I think this is year 3 but I could be wrong.

    Seriously though, fans expected playoffs in two years? Holmgren has overseen great drafts, and has built a very solid, young, talented football team who just happens to have 4 games every year against the Steelers and Ravens who are top 10 football teams over the last few years as well as a Bengels team which was no slouch last year either.
    So Browns fans, show a little patience and stop jumping off the train before it leaves the depot becaus eyou think it is moving to slow.
    The Browns are vastly improved, their defense is solid and their offense has a strong Offensive line and a potential franchise RB now.
    Give yourselves a break: You better hope Holmgren stays otherwise it’s back to square one and a new rookie QB next year! Then in 3 years you will want ANOTHER regime change.

  7. jackblackshairyback says: Jul 28, 2012 11:25 AM

    It makes sense. Holmgren’s role is to act as owner for Lerner, meaning going to owner’s meetings for him even.

    Haslam may very well want to act as owner himself.

  8. upperdecker19 says: Jul 28, 2012 11:34 AM

    Todays forecast is “cloudy” with a strong chance of unemployment.

  9. ravenspit says: Jul 28, 2012 11:38 AM

    Maybe the “Big Show” can move back to Seattle and run Drew Carey’s soccer team. Haslam would immediately endear himself to Browns fans if he cleared house and hired a staff not serviced by agent Bob LaMonte.

  10. stoutfiles says: Jul 28, 2012 11:43 AM

    Sure he’s been a big flop, but who hasn’t in Cleveland? It’s not like his replacement will do any better. This is the Browns we’re talking about.

  11. audient says: Jul 28, 2012 11:59 AM

    QBs Holmgren brought to Cleveland:

    Wallace: single on base
    (quality backup but nothing more)
    Delhomme: out
    McCoy: out
    (McCoy fans think he deserved another at bat)

    Two outs with Weeden up, and Richardson, Gordon, et al ready to take the field for the first time. I do want to see how this turns out before declaring the Big Show a Big Flop.

  12. ravenmuscle says: Jul 28, 2012 12:09 PM

    Cleveland wanted nothing better than to get rid of Modell…..WISH GRANTED….but what have they won since he left?

    Can’t blame the last 16 years of lousy teams on Modell anymore.

    The team he took to Baltimore was putrid…so he didn’t “steal” anything good from Cleveland.

    Plus he left all the colors, team name. records….set the ball rolling for a new stadium…and then Lerner stayed in New York while the team just flat out stunk on automatid pilot.

    The Brownies have Joe Thomas and Joe Thomas and Joe Thomas and Joe Thomas…etc…etc…

  13. backindasaddle says: Jul 28, 2012 12:18 PM

    All that contractual stuff is just fine and dandy and it’s all wonderful speculative stuff to chew on….

    ….. but at this juncture, I’m stepping back and taking a hard overall assessment of the “Big Show”, what he’s achieved thus far, the prospects for the teams success moving forward, his management, his drafting, his FA acquisitions/losses, cap management, etc etc etc…. Essentially, I’m looking at his performance. I’m looking at his effectiveness in his job, and the resulting state of the Cleveland Browns football team and football franchise right here and right now as a result of his management.

    I must say….. it’s not a pretty thing at all and if I were a new owner coming in he’d be gone in the blink of an eye based wholly upon his complete ineffectiveness in producing success for the Cleveland Browns franchise or even establishing a basis that gives optimism for success moving forward.

  14. pmars64 says: Jul 28, 2012 1:54 PM

    While I haven’t always been pleased with Holmgren’s work at Browns head honcho, there’s no doubt he’s brought more professionalism and stability and he brought in a good GM in Heckert. The talent base HAS improved and probably significantly so since he arrived. Right now, the Browns offensive line is as good as any in the division and, with its youth, it will only get better. Some say it will an elite line soon. They may have the best collection of RBs in the division. They have good talent in the secondary, along the defensive line, and a young WR corps that may have gotten a tremendous boost by grabbing Gordon in the supplemental draft.

    Sure, they’ve only won 9 games in two years under Holmgren and he has admitted that keeping Mangini was a mistake, but the roster was AWFUL when he took over and now, it’s significantly improved. As bad as the offense was last year, they still nearly beat Pittsburgh twice, out-played the Bengals in both games even though they lost, and scared the pants off of the Ravens in their second game. Sure, they lost all of these, but with more talent added this year, they probably win a couple of these if not more.

    Truthfully, I shudder to think of Joe Banner taking over as team president. He’s an abrasive, derisive figure, and Heckert will certainly be gone because it was Banner who forced him out of Philly. Maybe Lerner was a lousy owner, but I’m not sure Haslam bringing in Banner will be any better and, I fear, it could be worse.

  15. Sandra Lee's Cans says: Jul 28, 2012 2:25 PM

    The Big Show’s future isn’t nearly important as competent, involved, passionate ownership. Randy Lerner left all of that to Holmgren and fell short. If Holmgren stays, fine. If he goes, he goes. Mr. Haslem will find a more than suitable replacement, someone with an emotional tie to the team, hopefully.

  16. patsandsox says: Jul 28, 2012 3:27 PM

    I feel bad for the Browns fans, now they will have to endure regime change and a new plan to solve everything right when Holmgren was in year three of his plan. Its constant turmoil and no one ever seems get a chance to make it work with the demand for instant gratification.

    Good Luck Browns fans

  17. muckfodell says: Jul 28, 2012 5:53 PM

    And Ravenmuscle is a troll and a troll and a troll and a troll, etc., etc.

    There really is life outside of Mommy’s basement, dude. Let go of the apron strings…

  18. texline1 says: Jul 29, 2012 7:29 AM

    bartpkelly says: The Browns are vastly improved, their defense is solid and their offense has a strong Offensive line and a potential franchise RB now.
    Oh yeah? What was their record last year? And the year before that? The defense was 30th out of 32 teams against the run.( Nobody passed on them. Why would they.) Bottom line is, nothing has improved since Holmgren has been in Berea. Or since he moved into the front office in Seattle for that matter. He was a mediocre coach, who, without Favre, wins zero Super Bowls, and an even worse G.M./President.

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