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Browns are only NFL team left with coaching opening, will continue interviews

The Browns began their coaching search last week committed to a thorough, disciplined approach.

They have no reason to rush the process now.

After a newsworthy Tuesday across the NFL, the Browns are the only team in the league still looking for a coach.

The Panthers hired Baylor University coach Matt Rhule, and the Giants agreed to a deal with Patriots special teams coordinator/receivers coach Joe Judge, according to multiple reports.

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Washington hired Ron Rivera on Jan. 1, and the Cowboys officially hired Mike McCarthy on Tuesday.

McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl as coach of the Packers, is the only one of the chosen coaches who was on Cleveland’s interview list. He was the first interview Thursday.

So unless another job unexpectedly comes open, the Browns can take their time and have their pick of the candidates. The urgency would be hiring a coach so he can put together a staff and get started on the offseason.

The Browns have already interviewed Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

The interviews will continue this week. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is scheduled to interview Wednesday, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski on Thursday and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on Friday, according to reports.

Stefanski was a finalist for the Browns’ job last year, losing out to Freddie Kitchens, who was fired after one season.

ESPN reported the Browns want to have a deal in place by Saturday, citing sources. Stefanski, Saleh, Bieniemy and Roman will still be coaching in the playoffs this weekend.

McDaniels is considered the favorite by many. Although he’s interviewed with the Browns twice — 2009 with owner Randy Lerner and 2014 with owner Jimmy Haslam — he hasn’t been interviewed since chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta arrived in 2016. DePodesta is the point man on the search, with Dee and Jimmy Haslam having final say.

McDaniels would have to be content with the organizational structure — coach, general manager and DePodesta having equal power and reporting directly to the Haslams — trust the leadership of the Haslams and be ready to leave the Patriots after backing out of a deal to coach the Colts two years ago.

Stefanski seems like the other favorite after finishing runner-up to Kitchens, reportedly as the choice of DePodesta. The Vikings play at the 49ers on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the playoffs.

Bieniemy has gotten a lot of support from the Chiefs and across the league to be a head coach and could emerge as a sleeper. Haslam and his players have talked a lot about needing a strong leader after the Kitchens disaster, and Bieniemy has that reputation. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and played running back for nine years in the NFL.

Rhule’s deal with the Panthers could set a high bar for negotiations, especially for someone who believes he has leverage, such as McDaniels. Rhule reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $62 million deal, which is much longer and more expensive than a standard coaching contract.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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