The Cleveland Browns' offseason seemed to settle down with the hiring of head coach Mike Pettine. But it's the Browns, and it's never calm with them.
CEO Joe Banner will step down and general manager Mike Lombardi will leave the organization, according to published reports including the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Ray Farmer, formerly the team's assistant general manager, will be promoted to general manager. Farmer passed up Miami's general manager job last month to stay in Cleveland, but insisted to the Plain Dealer he wasn't promised a promotion to stay. That claim appears dubious given the most recent developments.
Here is part of owner Jimmy Haslam's statement, via the team's web site:
"We simply wanted to give Ray this opportunity that he’s earned," Haslam said. "We wanted to move forward under his leadership and capabilities."
Haslam also said Farmer "embraces his partnership with Mike Pettine, which is critical in helping build the right team," which seems to mean that Banner and Lombardi didn't.
Even if Farmer is deserving of the job, to be clear, losing the two top people in the front office a week before the scouting combine is not good.
The Browns, who have the fourth and 26th picks in the first round, have had little continuity in the organization since re-entering the NFL in 1999. They are headed into a huge offseason, with seven picks in the first four rounds of the draft and about $46 million in cap room. Having a massive front office shakeup now, more than a month after the season, is a shocking development. Maybe it turns out well – Banner and Lombardi weren't exactly the most popular people in Cleveland – but it's still unusual at this point in the offseason.
That this happened in Cleveland makes it sad but unfortunately less surprising. The Browns are one of the worst-run organizations in the league, and the fans deserve better. No wonder the Browns had such a tough time finding a coach who would take their job.
The group of Banner, Lombardi and owner Jimmy Haslam were mocked at a press conference as the "Three Stooges" after they fired coach Rob Chudzinski after just one season. Two of them have left the building. Goodness knows what the third one will do next.
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