CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns are in the second week of interviews and have scheduled meetings this week with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Vikings coordinator Kevin Stefanski.

The Browns, who fired Freddie Kitchens after just one season, are the only team looking for a coach after the Panthers (Matt Ruhle) and Giants (Joe Judge) hired coaches on Tuesday. Cleveland has also asked the Philadelphia Eagles permission to interview defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who like McDaniels, has head coaching experience.

Cleveland’s choices have shrunk considerably over the past 24 hours after Mike McCarthy, the first candidate to interview with the Browns, was hired by the Dallas Cowboys. The former Packers coach was believed to be at or near the top of the wish list for owner Jimmy Haslam, who has had plenty of practice with coaching searches.

Rhule and Judge were not thought to be targets for Cleveland, but their signings in Carolina and New York changed the available talent pool.

McDaniels, too, has long been considered a favorite of Haslam, who has asked Cleveland’s fan base to be patient while he’s displayed none himself. This is Haslam’s sixth coaching search since he and his wife, Dee, bought the franchise from Randy Lerner in 2012.

The 44-year-old McDaniels may be itching for a second shot at head coaching after a failed run with the Denver Broncos in 2009-10. McDaniels went 11-17 before being fired and it was a humbling experience for the highly regarded coordinator, who has spent the past eight seasons running Bill Belichick’s offense and working with quarterback Tom Brady.

PANTHERS: David Tepper is entrusting Baylor’s Matt Rhule to lead Carolina out of what he views as a cycle of “long term mediocrity.”

The Panthers owner hired the 44-year-old Rhule on Tuesday to become the team’s next head coach. He replaces Ron Rivera, who was fired with four games remaining in the 2019 regular season. The deal is worth $62 million over seven seasons, with incentives to make even more for winning, said a person familiar with the situation.

The deal makes Rhule the sixth-highest paid coach in the NFL, according to Forbes. The five coaches ahead of him – New England’s Bill Belichick, Seattle’s Pete Carroll, Oakland’s Jon Gruden, New Orleans’ Sean Payton and Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, have all won Super Bowls.

The Panthers met with Rhule at his home in Waco, Texas, on Monday, and Tepper liked what he heard and moved swiftly to make a hire. Rhule, who is from New York City, had been scheduled to visit with his hometown New York Giants later in the week and Tepper didn’t want to lose him.

“You have a new owner who is committed to doing things the best way. He’s a very much a process oriented person,” Rhule told ESPN Central Texas radio on Tuesday. “That is really all I wanted. I wanted to go to a place that isn’t going to flail in the wind, that is going to be rooted and has a process they believe in. As we talked last night it was clear their process and my process could be one in the same.”

Rhule said it was a difficult decision to leave Baylor, but that “I felt like my work was done and it was time to try and turn around another program.”

RAVENS: Running back Mark Ingram II (calf injury) did not participate in practice Tuesday as he deals with a “mild-to-moderate” calf strain, but was “on track” to play Saturday and “should be practicing next week, full speed,” according to Coach John Harbaugh.




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