Crennel willing to stay if new coach agrees

The Romeo Crennel era in Cleveland -- with Crennel as head coach -- is over. But his coaching career with the Browns might extend beyond this season, under the right circumstances.

Crennel told The Cleveland Plain Dealer in a phone interview Monday that he'd be willing to stay if the new coach wanted him on his staff.

"You don't want to get into a situation where somebody other than the head coach is hiring the coaches because now you've got a situation that might not work best," Crennel told the newspaper. "And for this organization to move forward, they need key people on the same page, going in the same direction."

Crennel went 24-40 in four seasons with the Browns, who entered 2008 with huge expectations but collapsed amid injuries to quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson; dropped passes by wide receiver Braylon Edwards; and uneven play on both sides of the ball. Cleveland didn't score an offensive touchdown as it lost its last six games.

Crennel was a highly regarded defensive coordinator with New England before taking the Browns' head coaching job.

Browns owner Randy Lerner has been granted permission by New England to interview Scott Pioli, the Patriots' vice president of player personnel who helped assemble three Super Bowl winners as coach Bill Belichick's right-hand man, to replace Phil Savage, who was fired as the Browns' general manager Sunday.

The 43-year-old Pioli began his NFL career in Cleveland as a pro personnel assistant under Belichick in 1992. He has worked his way up and is now regarded as one of the league's premier front-office executives. Savage was seen similarly when the Browns hired him in 2005, but Lerner believes Pioli has a more expanded role than Savage did when he was Baltimore's director of player personnel.

Pioli is believed to be interested in the Browns job, sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

If Pioli is hired, head coaching candidates are expected to be Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.

Crennel told The Plain Dealer that if Pioli were to take the Browns job, he would discuss staying on the team's staff.

"I'd have to sit down and talk to Scott about it, but moreso than Scott, I'd have to talk to the head coach," Crennel told the newspaper. "That would be the major factor."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.