Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur were relieved of their duties as general manager and head coach of the Cleveland Browns on Monday.
"We felt that these moves were in the best interests of the Cleveland Browns and our future," said Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam. "I enjoyed getting to know Tom and Pat over the past several months, and want to thank them, not just for their contributions to the Browns, but also the insight they were able to provide. They are both fine men and hope they have the best of success as they move forward with their careers."
"This decision was not an easy one because of my relationship with Tom and Pat and the fact that they are both quality people," said Browns CEO Joe Banner. "Ultimately our objective is to put together an organization that will be the best at everything we do. On the field, our only goal is trying to win championships. I have a great deal of respect for Tom and Pat, and I want to wish them and their families nothing but the best."
The Browns were 9-23 in two years under Pat Shurmur and 14-34 with Heckert as the general manager.
"I leave the Browns feeling very good about many of the things we accomplished here and the direction in which I believe this team is headed," Heckert said. "Having been around this franchise growing up, I was really excited for the opportunity to come here three years ago, and I want to thank Randy Lerner and Mike Holmgren for making that possible. I also want to acknowledge many of the hard-working people in the Browns organization, especially our player personnel staff, who are outstanding at what they do and supported me immensely in my role. I wish the team nothing but the best as they move forward."
"I am extremely proud of the players on this team, who I felt made tremendous strides and helped to make the Cleveland Browns relevant again," Shurmur said. "I want to thank them, as well as my entire coaching staff for making the past two years enjoyable. My coaches are outstanding teachers and even better men. They helped me lead these players through a unique time of transition. This group of players will achieve success soon, and there will be a part of me that will feel very good when that happens.
"I want to thank Randy Lerner, Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert for bringing me in and having the faith in me to lead this football team. I am disappointed that we did not win more games, but I do know the Browns are on their way to becoming a consistent winner. I appreciated the time spent with Jimmy (Haslam) and Joe (Banner), and wish them all the best as they provide a new vision for the Cleveland Browns."
Earlier in the year, team president Mike Holmgren retired. Banner and Haslam have cleaned house, so who could be the team's next coach? Here are some of the candidates.
The Sandusky native has expressed some interest in returning to the sideline as a coach. He coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl championship.
The head coach at Oregon is the hottest candidate for most teams with an opening. Would most likely bring his spread offense to Cleveland. Reported to want power to run the team, and could get it here.
The Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator will interview with the Browns this week, according to FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez. Runs a pass-happy offense with Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
The Saints offensive line coach went 2-4 as New Orleans interim-to-the-interim head coach, filling in for Joe Vitt who filled in for Sean Payton.
Head coach at Syracuse. ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting he has an interview scheduled with the Browns.
Head coach at Penn State. Former offensive assistant under Bill Belichick in New England. Another hot college candidate that could get a few interviews with teams needing a coach.
The head coach at Alabama has ties to the Browns, having been the defensive coordinator for Bill Belichick in the 1990's. It's hard to say if he'd leave the college ranks for a pro job, but he fits the description Haslam and Banner laid out on Monday.
Smith was fired by the Bears as well on Monday. According to ESPN, he's already been contacted by four of the seven teams who fired their coaches. It's uncertain if the Browns were one of them.
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