Kevin Stefanski's Browns coaching staff in 2020: Who's in, who's out and who might be on the way to Cleveland
Details on how the new head coach might fill out his first staff in Cleveland
The Cleveland Browns hired Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who has spent all 14 of his professional coaching seasons in Minnesota, as the franchise's 18th head coach. With the grand decision behind them, the attention turns to filling out the assistant coaching staff in addition to finding a new general manager.
Here's the latest on who might be in the mix and who is already in the fold.
Coaching positions filled
Special teams coordinator - Mike Priefer
Cleveland.com is reporting that incumbent special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will remain in his role on Kevin Stefanski's new staff. In the initial coaching staff tracker, CBS Sports mentioned that it was likely Priefer would stay given his prior connections to the new head coach.
A native of Cleveland, Priefer first served as a graduate assistant at Navy in 1994. His career took him to three other collegiate institutions, including Youngstown State, before he received his first opportunity in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars hired him as the assistant special teams coach in 2002. He served in the same capacity with the New York Giants from 2003-2005. In 2006, he was named the special teams coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs. He has fulfilled that same role with the Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings and Chiefs ever since.
Priefer has a game's worth of head coaching experience, as well, as he was named the acting head coach for the Week 13 game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 when Mike Zimmer had to undergo emergency eye surgery. The team would lose that game by a score of 17-15 on Thursday Night Football at U.S. Bank Stadium in Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator - Chad O'Shea
O'Shea spent three seasons on Minnesota's coaching staff from 2006-2008. During that time, he served as an offensive assistant, wide receivers and special teams coach. O'Shea followed that with 10 seasons in New England as the wide receivers coach. When Brian Flores accepted the Miami Dolphins head coaching job, he hired O'Shea to be his offensive coordinator. The union lasted just one season.
ESPN's Rob Demovsky revealed that offensive line coach James Campen would not be retained by the Browns. Not long thereafter, NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported that the team would be hiring former Washington Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan. Campen is a phenomenal coach but his background did not match the scheme that the new coaching staff plans to deploy. Since 2011, he has helped seven players reach the Pro Bowl: Joel Bitonio, Chad Clifton, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Jeff Saturday, David Bakhtiari and T.J. Lang.
Callahan has extensive experience coaching the offensive line unit. The 63-year-old has served as head coach of the Oakland Raiders as well as an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys in addition to stints with three other teams during his 21 year NFL coaching career.
Vacant coaching positions
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported that the Browns would not retain offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Monken was hired onto former head coach Freddie Kitchens' first staff in Cleveland, but did not call the plays. Monken has since been hired as offensive coordinator at the University of Georgia.
NFL Media's Ian Rapoport noted that Stefanski has interest in San Francisco 49ers pass game coordinator Mike LaFleur and 49ers run game coordinator Mike McDaniel for the offensive coordinator roles. There is some doubt that either would be granted permission to leave; certainly not without the responsibility of calling the plays. Both have participated, along with Stefanski, in a group called QB Collective. The addition of either would be a slam dunk for the Browns. Former Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello will interview Monday or Tuesday, according to a report from Cleveland.com.
Vikings assistant head coach and offensive advisor Gary Kubiak would be another potential hire. Stefanski recommended the addition of Kubiak last offseason to install a similar system to what has made San Francisco more successful all season. California offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave could be a sleeper candidate.
Darrell Bevell and Eric Bieniemy would likely be options if they were not employed in the same capacity with the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs respectively. Both have previously spent time on Minnesota's staff.
NFL Media's Jim Trotter recently reported that Stefanski's decision would come down to 49ers defensive backs/passing game coordinator Joe Woods and incumbed defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who was apparently Stefanski's defensive coordinator of choice in 2019. Rapoport also mentioned Woods as 'a top candidate' in a recent column. The expectation is that the Browns are waiting until after San Francisco exits the playoffs similar to their approach with their new head coach a week ago.
Woods would figure to be a strong candidate for the position. He spent eight seasons with Minnesota as a defensive backs coach from 2006-2013. The Pennsylvania native previously served as a defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos on Vance Joseph's staff.
Former Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, who did not call the defensive plays for the Vikings, had been rumored as well. Minnesota announced that the veteran coach would not return to Mike Zimmer's staff next season. Edwards' contract expired after the season.
Indianapolis Colts defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon could be an option. Gannon is an intriguing option because he is originally from Cleveland and attended St. Ignatius High School. He served as assistant defensive backs/quality control coach for Minnesota from 2014-2017.
Former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was mentioned by Cleveland.com as well. Los Angeles parted with the veteran coach in January. He made it clear that he intends to continue coaching. The hire of Phillips would require a departure from the team's current 4-3 base defensive scheme.
Incumbent running backs coach/run game coordinator Stump Mitchell is being considered for Stefanski's coaching staff, according to Cleveland.com. With Mitchell's help, second year running back Nick Chubb had the second most rushing yards (1,494) across the NFL during the regular season. His coaching career began in 1999 as a running backs coach with the Seattle Seahawks. He was there for nine seasons before joining the Redskins staff as associate head coach/running backs coach.
Klint Kubiak served as quarterbacks coach of the Vikings in 2019. He was brought on along with his father prior to the season. If his father joins the Browns in some capacity, it is reasonable to think Klint might join him again. The 32 year old had previously served as offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach of the Broncos from 2016-2018.
The Broncos' decision to fire offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello could actually open a door for Cleveland. Scangarello is another disciple of San Francisco and the Shanahan coaching tree. Prior to serving as offensive coordinator, he was a quarterbacks coach for the 49ers.
Former Detroit Lions offensive line coach Jeff Davidson would make a lot of sense for either the tight ends or offensive line coaching vacancies. He coached the tight ends with the Patriots 1997 and then again from 2002-2004. The 52 year old was also the offensive line coach for the VIkings from 2011-2015. The majority of his career has been spent coaching the offensive line though. In 2005, Davidson was named offensive line coach of the Browns. The following year, he served as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator under head coach Romeo Crennel.
Davidson played five NFL season with the Broncos and New Orleans Saints. The 52 year old was born in Akron, Ohio before being raised in Westerville, Ohio.
If Stefanski wants to add a respected, veteran coach to his coaching staff then he does not have to look any further than Mike Singletary. Singletary previously served as head coach of the 49ers. In addition to his illustrious playing career, the 61 year old served as linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 2003-2004 and special assistant to the head coach/linebackers coach for the Vikings from 2011-2013.
DeWayne Walker may remain on Stefanski's staff as well, according to Cleveland.com. Walker actually joined Hue Jackson's staff in 2017 and was held over by Freddie Kitchens. Prior to joining the Browns, the 59-year-old had served as a defensive coordinator at UCLA and Oklahoma State in addition to 13 years coaching defensive backs in the NFL.
Vacant general manager position
The Browns parted ways with general manager John Dorsey shortly after the decision to cut ties with Kitchens. During a press conference that followed, owner Jimmy Haslam acknowledged that he hoped to hire a new head coach and then allow that coach to be involved in the franchise's search for a new general manager.
"We are going to hire the coach first and then we will do the GM search. The coach will be involved in that process but will not have the final say. In you all's terms, we will not have an 'arranged marriage.' Let me just continue on because I think I know what you are going to ask, the coach and the GM will report to ownership as equals and obviously married up with each other," Haslam said.
There are a few candidates who make sense in connection with Stefanski. It initially sounded as though current Philadelphia Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry was the odds on favorite for the role. He previously served as vice president of player personnel in Cleveland from 2016-2018. Berry believes in the involvement of analytics and has previously worked with chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta. In recent days, Vikings assistant general manager George Paton has gained steam. The two parties are expected to meet in the coming days. If all goes well, it is likely that he is hired for the position. The third candidate to interview is New England Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort, according to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero. It is the first general manager interview for Ossenfort. New England prevented him from interviewing for the Houston Texans vacancy two years ago.
For the time being, the Browns have retained the services of Dorsey's trusted deputies: assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith. Berry has worked with each, as well.
Pick Six Newsletter
Get the day's big stories + fun stuff you love like mock drafts, picks and power rankings.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
The retailer is explaining what happened with $20,000 that was not used to pay customers layaway...
Who will be partying it up for Super Bowl LIV in Miami? Allow us to be your guide
Here's how you can follow all of the action from Super Bowl LIV and all the details you need...
Here's who Kansas City and San Francisco will be starting in Super Bowl LIV
Jones has been hampered by a calf injury over the past few weeks
It's an important day for the future of the Browns
The 49ers opened up a 27-0 lead by halftime and didn't look back, winning the NFC Championship...
A close game in the first half turned into a convincing final as the Chiefs booked their ticket...
Live scores, highlights and updates from the Jaguars vs. Colts football game