With the news that forthcoming Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was approved to actually own the team and with the report that Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert is telling those close to him that he's worried for his job, it only makes sense that coach Pat Shurmur's employment status could be in real trouble too.
Naturally, that leads us to wonder who would replace Shurmur as the sixth full-time Browns coach since 2000 if he were to get fired. How about Jon Gruden?
Well, CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, how about it?
“The name you keep hearing in circles and rumors is Jon Gruden,” Prisco said on CBSSports.com's Pro Football 360 (video below). “Haslam is a Tennessee guy and at one point, he was linked to Gruden trying to get him to come to Tennessee. That's a guy to keep an eye on.”
But why would this job be attractive to Gruden, who's flirted with other head coaching jobs (reportedly, for instance, the Dolphins) since he entered the Monday Night Football booth in 2009? After all, the Browns have been a franchise in flux since the organization was reestablished in 1999 (only two winning records in that time span).
But there is some progress being made in Cleveland. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has improved greatly and been better than some expected, Trent Richardson looks legit as a potential star running back, and the team features some could-be standouts on defense (cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson).
“There are some pieces in place,” Prisco said. “It doesn't need an entire overhaul. There are some things to like about what the Browns are doing.”
Although there have been plenty of Gruden mentions whenever a coaching job opens -- and don't expect that to change this offseason -- he's also he's happy at ESPN. For the moment. At least that's what he says.
"I love my job and I'll be back at ESPN with the guys,” Gruden said at the end of last year. "I'm not going anywhere … I enjoy being with our ESPN team. I'm staying put.”
Whether that attitude extends into whatever openings are out there this year remains, of course, to be seen.
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