Browns name Fred Nance general counsel

When the e-mail arrived and we saw the words “Browns” and “general,” we assumed they’d hired a new General Manager.

As it turns out, the position is still vacant.

Instead, the Browns have announced the hiring of Fred Nance as the team’s general counsel, which is a fancy-schmancy word for “company lawyer.”

Nance, the Regional Managing Partner of the Cleveland-based firm of Squire, Sanders, & Dempsey, was one of the finalists for the position of NFL Commissioner in 2006.

“The naming of Fred Nance as General Counsel strengthens our ability to manage any number of matters,” owner Randy Lerner said in a team-issued release.  “I’ve had a strong and productive working relationship with Fred for many years and admire the many and various contributions he’s made to the City of Cleveland.”

Most recently, Nance was hired by the Browns to represent the team in connection with the grievance filed by former G.M. George Kokinis, who was fired “with cause” and thus stiffed out of ongoing pay.  With coach Eric Mangini possibly getting the same treatment, Lerner might have realized that it would be far cheaper to convert Nance from retainer to salary.

Nance will continue to work for Squire, Sanders & Dempsey while moonlighting with the Browns.