Sources: Browns talk to Whisenhunt

Updated: January 3, 2013, 4:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt interviewed Wednesday with the Cleveland Browns about their head coaching vacancy, league sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

The meeting with Whisenhunt took place in Arizona, where Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are conducting a handful of interviews. Next up is Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, and the Browns have a meeting scheduled Friday with Oregon coach Chip Kelly, whose team plays Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Thursday night.

Whisenhunt, who was fired Monday by the Cardinals, also has interviewed with the Buffalo Bills.

Haslam and Banner also interviewed Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton on Tuesday in Arizona.

Kelly has been courted by NFL teams in the past and came close to taking Tampa Bay's job last year. He has been deflecting questions about his future all week and did so again on Wednesday when he was asked if he expected to be contacted by NFL teams in the days ahead.

"I don't expect anything," he said. "I said this a million times. I'm never surprised by anything. I do not know what the future holds. I do know we have a football game tomorrow night and I'm going to be there."

Kelly's fast-paced offensive system is intriguing to the Browns, who fired Pat Shurmur earlier this week. New England coach Bill Belichick consulted Kelly this summer and has incorporated aspects of Oregon's up-tempo game into the Patriots' offense.

Kelly was asked Wednesday if he believed his offensive system would work in the NFL.

"I don't think anybody knows any answers until somebody does it," he said.

Haslam, who has made it clear that finding "the right coach" is his top priority, said the team will not confirm any interviews.

As far as Browns safety T.J. Ward is concerned, Kelly, his former coach with the Ducks, is ready to make the leap from college to the pros.

"I think the players in the NFL would respect him and they will respect how he approaches you," Ward said. "He lets you do your job. In college, he treated us like pros. I think that's what players respect and appreciate about him."

Cleveland also must replace general manager Tom Heckert, who was fired after three seasons.

Information from ESPN NFL insider Chris Mortensen and The Associated Press were used in this report.

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