|Former Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt met with Cleveland on Thursday for the second time. (US Presswire)|
When the Browns' head coaching position came open last week, Oregon coach Chip Kelly reportedly emerged as the top candidate. But Oregon announced Monday that Kelly was returning to the school for the 2013 season. Whisenhunt first met with the Browns last Wednesday, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
Whisenhunt served as the Browns' tight ends coach in 1999 during his third season as an assistant coach in the NFL. Previously, he spent two seasons in a similar capacity with the Ravens. In nine NFL seasons as a player, Whisenhunt was primarily used as a blocking tight end with the Falcons (1985-88), Redskins (1989-1990) and Jets (1991-1993).
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The Browns are also searching for a general manager after firing Tom Heckert on Dec. 31. Browns CEO Joe Banner is looking to hire a coach before the team fills the opening in the front office.
“We think that the head coach is going to play even a bigger role in where we go from here,” Banner said during a Dec. 31 press conference. “That will create a better situation for us to identify what role the GM, potentially director of player personnel, whichever it ends up being -- exactly what qualities do we need in that person.”
Banner did not indicate if he's leaning toward a coach with an offensive or defensive background.
In 2008, the Cardinals ranked fourth in the league in total offense in Whisenhunt's second season. In two of the past three seasons, Arizona ranked 31st or worse. On defense, the Cardinals finished higher than 17th once in Whisenhunt's six seasons.
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