The Browns hopes that Eric Mangini will be their new defensive coordinator are on hold today - contrary to some reports - but they did to hire someone before the day was through.
New GM Phil Savage has the guy he wanted to be his Director of Player/Personnel, as Bill Rees joined the team in that capacity today. The timing comes as a bit of a surprise, as it was expected that Rees wouldn't be freed up by the 49ers until after the draft. Having completed his "transition" to some new personnel in San Francisco, however, Rees was free to go and join his old friend Savage in Cleveland.
The two have known each other since they were together at UCLA and also share a common mentor in scout Ernie Plank. The "old-time scout", as Savage called him, took Rees under his wing and was also very helpful to Savage as he was learning the trade. Plank was on the Browns scouting staff when Savage came aboard in the 1990s.
Savage also spoke glowingly of the "common philosophies" between himself and Rees, as well as the new Browns exec's experience with both college and pro scouting, as well as his ability to manage scouting staffs.
Rees is another important part in a Browns front office and coaching staff which needs to come together quickly.
Eric Mangini could potentially be an important part of that staff and part of the Browns' future. The well-regarded Patriots DB coach is being wooed by the Miami Dolphins today, and is expected to visit Cleveland tomorrow. Savage stated that the Browns "know in the back of their minds" that there is a possibility that the Dolphins could keep Mangini from getting on board a plane to Cleveland, but feel that he will visit tomorrow and "hopefully stay".
The team has discussed parameters of a deal with Mangini, but have not given him a specific offer.
The team's current defensive coordinator - again contrary to some reports - remains with team and has not been given his official release.
Here are some of the other items of note from today's conference call with Savage and Rees:
- There appears to be a positive outlook from the team regarding keeping
Kelly Holcomb a Brown in 2005. Savage stated that he felt that Kelly wanted to
stay in Cleveland, and that it was possible that the team would feel the same
way. When asked about Jeff Garcia, Rees was somewhat non-committal, despite
knowing the quarterback from San Francisco, offering that "Garcia had some
good years with the 49ers" and that "when he was in a comfortable system for
him, he did well...".
- Maurice Carthon is expected to come to Cleveland to visit, but Savage
doesn't know exactly when that will be. Expect the Cowboys offensive assistant
to visit Cleveland shortly.
- There has been no determination of the status of Terry Robiskie. The
Browns offensive coordinator and interim head coach talked to Crennel today as
part of the interviews that the new Browns head coach was having with the
existing coaching staff.
- When asked about potential draft pick Aaron Rogers, Cal QB, Rees said he
was a "very gifted quarterback" who "played in great system at Cal".
- Savage said that the free agent philosophy would be to spread money
around, not "go crazy" like some teams have done in the past despite being
under the cap. The impression left was that the Browns were not going to throw
a lot of dollars at one specific player, but would instead be looking to bring
in multiple free agents.
- As promised, new head coach Romeo Crennel is getting smart about his
current players. Savage's team met with Crennel today and were giving him a
player-by-player sketch of the team. Robiskie was not in the meetings but
Savage said that they used "some of his insights" in their talks with Crennel.
The review of players will continue on Monday.
- There will be no more changes in the scouting staff after the release of Jeremy Green and Phil Neri. The remainder of the staff has been told that they are sticking around.