Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner were at odds over Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
McDaniels — a longtime Lombardi favorite — supposedly became Haslam’s top choice, but Banner had his reservations.
McDaniels had been fired by the Broncos after a controversial reign in which he alienated some players and lost 17 of his last 22 games. He was also fired in large part because of a videotaping scandal. But now former GM Mike Lombardi strongly felt McDaniels received a raw deal in Denver, and would excel in the right situation chance, much like his pal Bill Belichick did in New England.
Shortly after the Browns interviewed McDaniels, a Canton native, he pulled his name out of the search, saying he was happy where he was. After the media portrayed McDaniels’ withdrawal as another sign that no one wanted the “radioactive” Browns job, sources told Cabot and other local reporters that McDaniels pulled his name out because he was told he wasn’t the frontrunner.
The “frontrunner” retort didn’t sit well with some candidates or potential candidates, a source said.
But a McDaniels hire might’ve also gone over like a lead balloon. During the interview, NFL Network’s Mike Silver wrote, “ … when I read reports that former Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels might be the leading candidate to fill the Cleveland Browns opening, I feel like someone has just taken a tire iron to my skull.”
Within about 24 hours after McDaniels pulled out of the search, he called to get back in, sources close to the situation said. This was contrary to a report on NFL Network that the Browns called McDaniels and tried to lure him back into the mix.
Regardless, he remained in the running right up until the end, when the Browns hired Pettine on Jan. 23. In fact, he received the support and recommendation of Belichick right up until the 11th hour.
McDaniels was likely the “mystery finalist” the Browns referred to on the day Pettine was hired, although they later said it was Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who also hadn’t yet been eliminated until Pettine agreed to terms.