Chip Kelly, NFL teams set to meet

Updated: January 4, 2013, 1:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CLEVELAND -- The courtship of Chip Kelly is under way.

The Browns and at least two other NFL teams are expected to interview Oregon's offensive-minded coach, who said after Thursday night's Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State that he hopes to have the process "wrapped up quickly."

Along with the Browns, the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly in Arizona and have scheduled meetings over the next two days with Kelly.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Don RyanOregon's Chip Kelly is expected to meet with the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles about their coaching vacancies.

The 49-year-old said he's entering the interviews open-minded. He 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 the Ducks beat No. 7 Kansas State 35-17. "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 "our first priority is obviously to retain Chip." He said Kelly's buyout was upwards of $3 million and that there are five years left on Kelly's contract. Kelly's contract rolled over with an extra year after Thursday's win over Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

If the Ducks do lose Kelly to the NFL, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will be promoted to head coach, sources confirmed to ESPN. That decision was first reported by USA Today.

Kelly is at or near the top of the Browns' list of candidates to replace Pat Shurmur, who was fired earlier this week after going 9-23 in two seasons. Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have been conducting interviews in Arizona all week, searching for the team's sixth coach since 1999.

The Browns have declined comment on any interviews.

Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton confirmed he interviewed with Cleveland earlier this week. The Browns have reportedly met with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who removed himself from consideration on Thursday night and intends to stay at the school.

Kelly doesn't have any NFL coaching experience, but aspects of his up-tempo offense are already being used by some teams.

Kelly wouldn't say whether he was leaning one way or another following the Ducks' bowl win.

"I said I'll always listen, and that's what I'll do," he said. "I know that people want to talk to me because of our players. The success of our football program has always been about our guys. It's an honor for someone to say they'd want to talk to me about maybe moving on to go coach in the National Football League. But it's because of what those guys do. I'll listen, and we'll see."

Oregon could be facing possible NCAA sanctions for the school's use of recruiting services, but Kelly indicated he isn't running from anything.

"We've cooperated fully with them," he said. "If they want to talk to us again, we'll continue to cooperate fully. I feel confident in the situation."

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter was used in this report.

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