Browns owner Jimmy Haslam blew up the team's front office on Tuesday, announcing that assistant general manager Ray Farmer had been promoted to general manager, and that now former general manager Mike Lombardi and team CEO Joe Banner are leaving the club. Lombardi is out immediately, while Banner will step down at some point over the next two months.
A heavy rumor since last September has been that the Browns are very interested in acquiring the phenom known as Johnny Football. The belief around the NFL was that it was Lombardi who was leaking to members of the media that the Browns wanted Manziel, and reports surfaced last month that the team would consider trading up to No. 1 overall in the draft to get the to-be rookie quarterback.
Haslam told the media on Tuesday that Farmer will be the guy to pick Cleveland's roster, so it's now on the first-time GM to choose the right future quarterback in the draft. Many analysts are projecting that the Houston Texans, currently in possession of the first overall pick, are in the Johnny Football business. Some have, on the other hand, suggested that Houston would be willing to move down in the first round if the team got the right offer.
Farmer danced around the topic when speaking during his first press conference as general manager.
One rumor floated out there at the end of the 2013 season was that Haslam himself is a big Manziel fan. Haslam made it clear when talking about the front office changes on Tuesday that everybody in the organization - Farmer, head coach Mike Pettine and everybody else - will answer directly to him, a move straight out of the playbook of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Haslam proved that he will not tolerate even one year that embarrasses the Browns, so Farmer would be wise to get a good read on what his boss is thinking regarding the draft before making any final decision.
New Cleveland offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan stated last week that he was looking forward to further evaluating Manziel. There are conflicting stories on whether or not Shanahan would recommend that the Browns draft Manziel, as some have speculated that the coordinator would prefer to coach up a more traditional quarterback.
Farmer, who had already been scouting college players and who was the top person within the Browns who attended Senior Bowl week activities, may already know what he does or doesn't want to do about Manziel. The spotlight is now on Farmer, who, for his job security, had better get far more right than wrong over the next few months. Haslam left no doubt on Tuesday that he is now running the organization, and he will be demanding positive results starting immediately.
If Mr. Haslam wants Johnny, Ray, you'd better go and get Johnny.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
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