Browns Owner Randy Lerner said late Monday morning that relieving General Manager Phil Savage and Head Coach Romeo Crennel of their duties are part of the organization’s “very strong commitment to get it right” and strengthening the Browns for the purpose of turning the team into a consistent winner.
Lerner said he feels the Browns are an attractive destination for prospective candidates and that he plans to begin the search for replacements as soon as later today.
“I think we need to be as nimble and move as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.
Though there’s no set plan, Lerner said prefers to hire a front office, “non-coaching executive” first. He’s already requested permission to speak to Scott Pioli of the Patriots and one other person he declined to name until he receives confirmation that permission has been granted.
On Saturday night, Lerner had a “very informal” meeting with Bill Cowher and Cowher made it “very clear…that he did not anticipate coaching in 2009” and asked not to be included on the Browns’ list of candidates.
“(Cowher) wasn’t coy; he spoke very clearly,” Lerner said. “He was very well prepared to describe his situation and his position. It wasn’t a dance.”
Lerner said he’s not ruling anything out, including further pursuit of Cowher or hiring a coach before hiring the front-office person.
“I don’t want to be boxed into a formula or a set approach,” he said.
Lerner said Crennel “was a gentleman through and through” during their Monday morning meeting and said that Crennel would consider a return to the Browns as an assistant coach under the right circumstances.
He said the decision to release Savage came about during conversations the two had over the last couple of weeks.
“We talked about change and about strengthening the organization,” Lerner said. “It became very clear that our management styles were not going to be adequately compatible going forward.”
Lerner said the Browns’ assistant coaches remain under contract and could return under the new head coach when he is hired.
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