BEREA, Ohio – The sale of the Cleveland Browns by Randy Lerner could bring a ripple effect of changes throughout the front office, starting with President Mike Holmgren and ending with Head Coach Pat Shurmur.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported over the weekend that the sale of the team could be expedited and wrapped up before the start of the regular season on September 9, ironically against the Philadelphia Eagles, the team which was run by former team President Joe Banner, who is part of this new ownership group led by Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam.
It’s no secret Banner wants to run things his way and that would mean the removal of current team President Mike Holmgren. That could happen as early as the next two weeks, or as late as by the first game. Holmgren is still under contract to the Browns and would accept a buyout when the new ownership group is installed.
Banner also worked with current Browns General Manager Tom Heckert in Philadelphia. The two did not have the closest of relationships, and Heckert would most likely be the next to go, but could stay thru next year’s draft to ease the transition.
Then there is Head Coach Pat Shurmur in the second year of his first ever head coaching contract. Shurmur is in a tough position because he will be evaluated on a team coming off a four win season that is loaded with potential but still several years away from the post season. The new ownership group would have a tough decision to make. Do you fire the coaching staff and stop the progress of the last two drafts? if you do, how do you sell another change to Browns fans?
Do you give Pat Shurmur one more year with an eye on a possible new coach next year, while the new ownership group gets its ducks in a row? Jimmy Haslam would initially get 70 percent of the Browns with Randy Lerner retaining 30 percent, that is due in large part to the debt the team has incurred with several bad contracts.
The change is coming how fast depends on the NFL now, but the ownership change is just the beginning to the even bigger changes that will follow.