We know that new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is planning a complete makeover for the offseason. Greg Bedard of the Boston Herald is reporting that the makeover may include bringing back two respected football minds who used to work with Bill Belichick when he was running thins in Cleveland: the NFL Network‘s and former Raiders GM Michael Lombardi and Alabama coach Nick Saban. Saban. Here’s the report from the Boston Herald:
There have been a lot of rumors around the Browns that NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi could be the next general manager should new team president Joe Banner and owner Jimmy Haslam decide to make a switch after the season. According to two NFL sources, there is indeed fire behind that smoke. Tom Heckert was hired in 2010 by then-president Mike Holmgren to transform the franchise. While it hasn’t exactly shown up in wins and losses yet — the Browns are 4-8 after going 5-11 in 2010 and 4-12 in 2011 — Heckert has done a nice job in the last two drafts to get some much-needed building blocks. Banner, who was with Heckert with the Eagles from 2001-09, also has a connection to Lombardi, who was in personnel with the Eagles from 1997-98. Heckert might force his way out after the season if Banner assumes many of the personnel controls, especially financial, that he had for most of his run with the Eagles. What would be the draw of Lombardi, who last worked in personnel from 1999-2007 as senior personnel executive to Raiders owner Al Davis? For one thing, Lombardi has been associated with winning teams wherever he’s been, from Bill Walsh’s 49ers, to the Browns (where he helped build the organization into a Super Bowl contender before Art Modell pulled the plug and moved the team to Baltimore), to the Eagles and the Raiders. Lombardi’s past weakness has been the cap, but Banner is an expert in that area. There’s also the person Lombardi could deliver as head coach: Alabama’sNick Saban. According to the NFL sources, Saban has let it be known that if he returns to the NFL — where he flopped, going 15-17 with the Dolphins from 2005-06 — it would likely be with Lombardi playing Pioli to his Belichick.