Scott Pioli is taking his time deciding if he will indeed make the leap and head up an NFL operation. The long-time New England executive is weighing options from the Cleveland Browns, interest from the Kansas City Chiefs and the possibility of remaining with the Patriots
Pioli appears to be in no hurry to make a decision, but those he has spoken with want him to reach a decision relatively soon. Despite promising developments in discussions with Browns' team owner Randy Lerner, Pioli has yet to commit to the organization, nor has he turned down the opportunity.
While nailing down a specific time-table has been sketchy, theOBR has been told by two separate sources that Pioli is expected to give Lerner an answer - no later than Monday.
A reported sticking point with the negotiations has been the opening at head coach in Cleveland. Lerner has met with a number of potential candidates, which is reflective of his due diligence - and he and Pioli are believed to be on a different page regarding one of the candidates, former Browns and Patriots assistant and New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini. Mangini in an interview with Lerner early in the week reportedly impressed the Browns' owner and was passionate about the Cleveland coaching position.
While it was assumed by some in the local media that a rift between Mangini and the Patriots organization would be an immediate show-stopper, Lerner's discussions with both did not bring talks to a halt. Pioli now still appears to have discomfort with Mangini, however, which has added some complexity to the decision-making.
A disciple of New England Patriots and former Browns head coach Bill Belichick, Mangini fell out of favor with numerous members of the Patriots operation when the Jets coach was accused of leaking confidential taping habits of the Patriots. These were later were deemed to be against league rules, with Belichick and the Patriots paying heavy fines and losing a first round draft pick.
Prior to leaving New England for the Jets job, Mangini was looked upon by Belichick as a loyal and strong coach while being an instrumental member of the defensive coaching staff.
Many in league circles cite this issue as a stumbling block between a Pioli hire and Mangini as a legitimate head coach candidate.
As Lerner and the Browns wait on an answer from Pioli, Lerner has continued to interview head coach and general manager prospects, with the latest being New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Cleveland defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and Browns' T.J. McCreight, the teams director of player personnel - under recently fired Phil Savage.