Even as the Browns are apparently zeroing in on Eric Mangini as their next head coach -- one uncorroborated report coming through OBR headquarters has the ex-Jets head coach being named to the post in the next 24 hours -- the lines of communication remain open between the team and Scott Pioli, sources familiar with the situation said.
According to one source, the two sides spoke as recently as last night, but are no closer to a resolution. Neither the New England Patriots vice president of player personnel nor Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner has told the other that they are no longer interested in continuing the talks. However, both Lerner and Pioli's boss, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, would like a decision sooner rather than later from Pioli, who has also drawn the interest of the Kansas City Chiefs.
With that in mind, a Ravens source has confirmed an Associated Press report that the Browns have asked for and received permission to speak to Baltimore president of pro personnel George Kokinis. The source said that the interview is expected to take place Tuesday at an undetermined location, although the date is subject to change as it's yet to be finalized.
The emergence of Kokinis as a candidate for the general manager opening has taken many by surprise, and has drawn less-than-flattering comments from league sources familiar with the executive's work in Baltimore.
"One is not on anyone's interview list for open coaching spots, and the other is not on anyone's radar when it comes to executive positions. Perfect. Only in Cleveland," one member of an AFC personnel department said this morning.
In fairness to Mangini, one source said, he could've been crossed off the list of potential candidates due to Lerner's infatuation with the coach and teams not wanting to "waste their time with someone who'll probably be elsewhere."