With Browns coach Mike Pettine and G.M. Ray Farmer expected to be ushered out of Cleveland as soon as Sunday night (and with both likely having plenty of interesting stories to tell), it’s unclear who will replace them.
As PFT reported on Saturday night, and as Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer confirms, the Browns are expected to make an aggressive and immediate push for Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase. The Browns wanted Gase two years ago, but he opted to remain with the Broncos on the heels of a Super Bowl XLVIII appearance.
The commitment to chasing Gase before hiring a G.M. underscores that the G.M. in Cleveland isn’t nearly as strong as General Managers elsewhere. It also confirms that owner Jimmy Haslam and team president Alec Scheiner have much more involvement in football operations than perhaps they should.
Unless Gase will be getting Belichick-style power with a G.M. in name only to set the table for the coach, the idea of hiring a coach before hiring a G.M. turns the usual approach on its head, putting a G.M. in the gulf between being a true G.M. and being the coach’s sidekick.
But that’s pretty much where Farmer has resided for the last two years. He didn’t hire Pettine; Pettine already had the job when Farmer was promoted following the surprise termination of G.M. Mike Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner. At a time when 49ers G.M. Trent Baalke could be hiring his third head coach, Farmer could be gone without hiring even one.
Which gives rise to the question of why any candidate with options would opt to become the G.M. of the Browns. Eliot Wolf’s name has been swirling, especially since his Hall of Fame father’s name has emerged in a vague capacity with the Browns.
Many believe that Eliot Wolf, the Packers director of player personnel, is on deck to replace Ted Thompson in Green Bay. Of course, Eliot Wolf could have his cake and eat it, a la John Schneider in Seattle. The De Pere native owns Packers stock and a contractual clause that would allow him to leave the Seahawks to become G.M. of the Packers. Eliot Wolf could ask for the same kind of term — and Haslam would have little choice but to agree to it.
It would be an all-in move from Eliot Wolf, who would be trying to quickly prove that he can perform the way Schneider has in Seattle during the final years of Thompson’s time in Green Bay.
It’s also possible that Wolf wants to make his own legacy not in the place where his father’s career reached its heights. If that’s the case, he may want to wait for another opportunity in a team where the General Manager really is the General Manager.