Jimmy Haslam preaches patience
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said in a letter to season-ticket holders Wednesday that the team will continue to be patient as it searches for a new coach.
"We understood from the beginning that if we wanted to speak to all of the coaches on our list that we may need to wait until they have completed their participation in the playoffs," Haslam said. "We are prepared to wait as long as necessary because this is a very important decision."
Clearly, the Browns want to talk to Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who said he wanted to wait to interview until the Broncos' season ended. That could happen Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, or it could be after the Super Bowl. Gase was the first coach the Browns sought permission to interview.
Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine also will interview with the Browns, a source confirmed to ESPN.com's Mike Rodak. Fox Sports first reported news of the interview.
The Browns are looking to replace Rob Chudzinski, who was fired after going 4-12 in one season with Cleveland.
After firing Chudzinski, the Browns informed the rest of their coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator Ray Horton, that their contracts would be honored but that the team would be liberal in allowing them to interview for other positions around the league, a team source told ESPN.
Haslam apparently reacted to local and national criticism about the team's coaching search. There was much criticism after the Browns fired Chudzinski, and two candidates interviewed have withdrawn from consideration: New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
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Other perceived candidates either were not interviewed or were not truly candidates. Among them were Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.
Out of the seven NFL teams that had to find a coach this offseason, the Browns are the only franchise still searching to fill their vacancy.
"We have purposefully been very methodical in our approach," Haslam said in the letter. "We believe it is very important to stay disciplined to this process and to interview all of the candidates on our list."
Sending a letter is unusual, but the frustration from the fans also has been unusually high. Haslam also has been dealing with a federal investigation into rebate fraud at his company Pilot Flying J, which does not help his public image. He pointed out in his letter that the Browns have five Pro Bowlers (although two can be free agents), one of the youngest rosters in the league, more salary-cap room in 2014 than any other team, and three of the top 35 draft picks and five of the top 83.
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"We believe the head coach of the Cleveland Browns to be a very attractive position," he wrote.
Turner, who has three years remaining on his contract with the Browns, is considered a leading candidate to become the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator under new coach Mike Zimmer, a league source told ESPN.
The Vikings have received permission from the Browns to interview Turner, a source said.
The Browns gave Horton permission Tuesday to interview for other openings, a source told ESPN. Whisenhunt is expected to reunite with Horton, who served as his defensive coordinator in Arizona, with the Titans, according to league sources.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Ed Werder and Adam Caplan contributed to this report.