Taylor's Circling The Browns

The Browns play the Steelers on Sunday, but the real action will likely start after the game. John Taylor brings the very latest from his sources on all the key stories: RAC's fate, Cowher's intentions, and the various back-up plans including Pioli, Morris, Nolan, Billick and more. Grab a Total Access Pass and join us!

--Once Romeo Crennel is officially fired and the news is made public – I've been told that will happen within 48 hours of the Pittsburgh game, although one source believes it won't happen until the end of the coming week – owner Randy Lerner will place a call to Bill Cowher and his agent to officially arrange a meeting. The ex-Steelers head coach, multiple sources have stated, will "very likely" sit down with the Cleveland owner and discuss a future with the organization.

It remains to be seen, however, if Cowher is ready to jump back into the head-coaching game. As of earlier this week, sources close to the former coach were still telling The OBR that Cowher had yet to make up his mind one way or the other.

Still, it will "likely take one helluva sales job by (Lerner)", as one source put it, in order to pry Cowher out of his broadcasting gig this year. As noted before, though, Lerner is a very impressive and persuasive individual in one-on-one settings, and the hope on the part of the organization is that a sit-down between the two will help alleviate any of the uncertainty that may be swirling around Cowher's head.

--There remains one Browns source who continues to insist that Lerner has yet to decide Crennel's fate and there's a chance, albeit a slim one, that the four-year coach could be retained. Other sources scoff at that notion, but it should be stated that it's not completely unanimous that he's gone.

That being said, he's gone at some point next week.

--There is mounting evidence, gleaned from various league sources, that Scott Pioli is fast becoming the Browns' fallback option should Cowher decide to not take the coaching bait. While it's widely assumed that Pioli and Josh McDaniels are somewhat of a general manager/head coach package, that isn't necessarily the case, either.

As Lane Adkins stated last week, the fly in the Pioli ointment could be Lerner's relationship with New England's owner Robert Kraft. If Kraft does not give his "blessing", Lerner "may have a hard time going against that and pursuing Pioli", a source said.

--A move that resulted in the hiring of either Cowher or Pioli would almost certainly be a death knell for current general manager Phil Savage.  Even if those two cannot be wooed, Savage is far from being a sure thing to return in 2009.  His status has been described as "tenuous at best" and "very much up in the air" by various sources, and it's certainly within the realm of possibility that he will be asked to give up the very powers that drew him to Cleveland in the first place.

While Cowher or Pioli could certainly be a factor in Savage's future with the club, how much he feels the need to hold on to his contractual powers will go a long way in determining what role, if any, the current GM will have with the franchise.

--The buzz around the league involving Raheem Morris as a potential head-coaching candidate this offseason has continued to grow in recent weeks. Morris was named to replace Monte Kiffin as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive coordinator earlier this week, but he could very well be one month-and-done on the job if he gets the opportunity to sit down with an NFL owner.

"He is a very engaging personality, and he has a tremendous command of the game on both sides of the ball. He's going to make it very hard for any owner who interviews him to turn him down," one NFL source said.

That buzz hasn't leaked over to the Browns as best I can tell, but it could should a certain Chin plan fall through.

--I don't know about the Brian Billick-Mike Nolan package deal – floated as a possibility by ProFootballTalk earlier this month – but I do know that there is a rumor making the rounds that the former Baltimore Ravens head coach would love to get the Cleveland job when it comes open. Why? Partly because he's itching to get back on an NFL sideline, and partly because the Cleveland job would afford him the opportunity to stick it to his ex-employers – with whom he had a less-than-cordial parting – twice a year.

Let this be said, though. I have heard nothing that could even be remotely construed as a rumor that the Browns are interested in Billick.

Just tossing this out there, for your consumption. Or nausea. Whatever the case may be.

--Provided he doesn't get shown the door as well, Eric Mangini will very likely be in the market for a new defensive coordinator at season's end. Given their history together, Crennel will be Mangini's top choice to fill the coordinator void, sources say.

--The buzz around the league is that the St. Louis Rams are the early favorite for landing the services of New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

--Not that it really matters, but it was the concussion – not the injury to his ribs – that forced the Browns to move Ken Dorsey to injured reserve, a source close to the quarterback said. The organization's medical staff was concerned about the lingering effects of the concussion and decided to take the safe route as there was just one game remaining in the season. If the injury had occurred earlier in the year, the source said, Dorsey would not have been placed on IR.



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