Friday, January 4, 2013
Updated: January 5, 11:58 PM ET
Sources: Chip Kelly, Browns meet
By Chris Mortensen
Oregon coach Chip Kelly and the Cleveland Browns wrapped up seven hours of meetings Friday that were characterized as "very positive," though Kelly informed the Browns that he would proceed to interview with the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles, according to team and league sources.
Kelly interviewed for five hours with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner before they took a break and had a two-hour dinner. The sides agreed to talk again Saturday night after Kelly's interview with the Bills on Friday night and the Eagles on Saturday.
But as of late Saturday night, Kelly hadn't had his second visit with the Browns because he and the Eagles had been meeting for much of the day.
While sources say Kelly has positioned himself as the favorite to become the next Browns coach, there is no contractual agreement in place. However, the two sides see no significant obstacles that would prevent a contract being completed if they decide to move forward Saturday night, the sources added.
Kelly informed Haslam and Banner that he wanted to "go through the process" by meeting with the Bills and Eagles, something he regretted not doing last hiring season when he only interviewed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to a source close to the Oregon coach.
Haslam and Banner did not object to Kelly's wishes to meet with those teams.
According to league sources, the Eagles were flying from Philadelphia to Arizona on Saturday morning to interview Kelly. Sources said Kelly gave the Eagles his word he would meet with them.
But Kelly said after Thursday night's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State that he hoped to have the process "wrapped up quickly."
The 49-year-old Kelly turned down an offer from Tampa Bay last year to return for his fourth season at Oregon, where he is 46-7. He has boosted the school's national profile with a high-powered offense capable of turning any game into a track meet.
"It's more a fact-finding mission, finding out if it fits or doesn't fit," Kelly said after Thursday's win of interviewing for an NFL job. "I've been in one interview in my life for the National Football League, and that was a year ago. I don't really have any preconceived notions about it. I think that's what this deal is all about for me. It's not going to affect us in terms of we're not on the road (recruiting). I'll get an opportunity if people do call, see where they are.
"I want to get it wrapped up quickly and figure out where I'm going to be."
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said Kelly's buyout was upwards of $3 million and that there are five years left on Kelly's contract, which rolled over with an extra year after Thursday night's win.
If Kelly leaves, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will be promoted to head coach, sources have confirmed to ESPN. That decision was earlier reported by USA Today Sports.
The Browns fired Pat Shurmur earlier this week after going 9-23 in two seasons under him.
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.