The Cleveland Browns could be poised to make big changes again pending the results of their final two games, league sources said, with ownership continuing to assess the performance of the staff. If the Haslams do opt to make a coaching change, they could provide Urban Meyer’s best chance of leaping to the NFL.
Jimmy Haslam has a very strong bond with Meyer, the sources said, and the two have long been confidants. Meyer has often shared inside information on his Ohio State players with the owner in the past — with the owner privileged to player reports and potential red flags that most if not all teams close to that program were not aware of. It was not uncommon at all for the men to be in conversation and act as a sounding board for one another, and Meyer has a unique cache in Ohio based on his successful stint with the Buckeyes.
Meyer has openly campaigned for the Cowboys job — which is not yet open — and spent last Sunday in Washington owner Dan Snyder’s suite. Though Meyer, working as a college football analyst, later came out and said he is not interested in returning to coaching, that is not the signal that has been privately sent to teams, according to multiple sources.
“Jimmy Haslam is as close to Urban Meyer as he is with the Mannings,” said one source with direct knowledge of the situation, noting Haslam’s ties to Peyton Manning and his family as a huge University of Tennessee booster. And several of Haslam’s job searches in the past have included conversations with, and interviews of, college coaches, with that a model that he has considered.
The Browns have lacked discipline and a consistent passing game this season despite the highest expectations they’ve had since they returned to the NFL as an expansion team, and quarterback Baker Mayfield, himself not long removed from the college game, has struggled mightily in his second season. The Haslams may end up opting for the status quo — games with division winner Baltimore and division doormat Cincinnati remain — but several sources around the league believe that if they do make a move, they would at least consult with Meyer.