Rumor Mill: Browns-Pioli Dance May Be Done

Patriots Insider has seen and heard the reports streaming in from around the web and on the airwaves. Here's the latest in the Scott Pioli job hunt and what each report's impact means to Pioli possibly leaving New England.

Addressing the mainstream media reports that are in the Newswire.

Mortensen Adds A New GM Name To The Mix

ESPN's Chris Mortensen has indicated that the Browns are looking toward an alternative to the Scott Pioli option at GM. Mortensen indicates that if Mangini gets the job as head coach, then Baltimore Ravens director of pro personnel George Kokinis is considered the next option at GM.

Mort's speculation hasn't been confirmed, likely because the Ravens are in the playoffs and league rules limit the time frame that employees in front office positions can be interview by other teams. The Browns would need to first request permission to speak with Kokinis, and by doing that may seal the fate of any chance they have in landing Patriots VP of Player Personnel Scott Pioli.

Mangini reportedly impressed Lerner during an interview earlier in the week, which has the Browns owner thinking of options should Pioli decide not to accept the job. Mortensen termed the interview "compelling" according to an unnamed source.

ESPN's take on this has been a little late to the party. The OBR and the Cleveland papers have already reported that Mangini impressed the Browns owner. The news that Kokinis might become the GM is a new twist to the GM search saga.

Can Pioli work with Mangini?

ESPN's James Walker piece on Pioli and Mangini is hardly worth noting, other than some Patriots Insider readers have asked the same question. Walker speculated that the Browns interest in Mangini could affect their pursuit of Pioli.

Walker asks the obvious:

"This is a huge question that has yet to be answered during the Browns' high-profile coach and GM search this week."

Then provides his answer:

"If Pioli is hired by the Browns, he likely will get to pick his own head coach. So everyone will find out soon enough if Mangini is on Pioli's list."

Glad that's cleared up.

As Patriots Insider has reported earlier, the probability that Pioli accepts anything less than the ability to choose his own coach is virtually nil. That leaves Lerner's plan as plan "C". Bill Cowher was A, Pioli and some coach was B, Mangini and some GM is C.

McDaniels Was Impressive

Other reports coming out of Cleveland on Saturday indicate that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels impressed the Browns owner with his level of articulation and details of the head coaching position.

Of course the attraction being mentioned the most frequently in McDaniels' favor is his experience working with Tom Brady and Matt Cassel -- particularly the impressive performance Cassel has turned in this season. McDaniels has a solid understanding of the Patriots system under Bill Belichick and he knows how to apply creative game plans with a backup quarterback.

The interview with McDaniels happened in the New England area, lasting 3-4 hours depending upon which source you believe. McDaniels is scheduled to interview with the Broncos tomorrow according to multiple reports. Denver is also expected to interview Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo Saturday during their east coast trip as they look to replace fired head coach Mike Shanahan.

The reports that McDaniels could be Pioli's choice for head coach should the Patriots exec land the job are more speculation than reality. Few believe Pioli would tab McDaniels as his head man if he gets the job. A Boston Herald report that Pioli reportedly prefers Kirk Ferentz continues to be closer to the truth. Even if it means that the Browns or the Chiefs hire Pioli as their next GM/President.

Pioli Could Land With Shanahan In KC?

Warpaint Illustrated (WI) first reported this in their insider area. Mike Shanahan is a candidate to land in KC as the Chiefs continue their search for a new head coach and new GM. Though Shanahan held both jobs in Denver, Kansas City is believed to want those duties separated. Chiefs owner Clark Hunt has been fielding potential candidate, including Pioli.

WI's take is interesting. Shanahan would get a chance to stick it to two of his former bosses every year if he becomes the coach for the Chiefs. It's widely known that Shanahan and Al Davis (Raiders) have an adversarial relationship since the Oakland head man fired Shanahan as head coach of the Raiders. Joining KC would allow Shanahan to stick it to Davis and Pat Bowlen, the owner of the Broncos.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports spoke with Shanahan and wrote about a possible Pioli - Shanahan combination in Kansas City. According to King, he doesn't feel Shanahan will return to coaching until 2010.

What does that have to do with Pioli?

King states that a combination of Pioli and Shanahan would be "one intriguing match." King also states that Pioli is expected to meet with the Chiefs sometime in the next few days.

What King doesn't know, therefore and couldn't write is that the Patriots VP of Player Personnel already met with the Chiefs. While it's not being reported, WI has a source that indicated the meeting ha already happened. It's unclear if that meeting is the first or second between Hunt and Pioli. But King provided no news on the matter.

It's unlikely that Pioli will accept any coach but his own, regardless of how well a match might be with both Shanahan and Pioli in Kansas City.

Pioli May Stay in New England

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is looking to make some headway with their reports of league sources criticizing the talent of the roster left over from the reign of Phil Savage in Cleveland. The report indicated that a source close to Pioli said the Patriots VP had "serious reservations" about the opportunity in Cleveland, citing lack of draft picks and dearth of talent on the roster.

While Pioli is still a candidate in Cleveland, the report indicated that leading candidate for head coach in Cleveland Eric Mangini has his own GM in mind, Kokinis from Baltimore.

The stream of reports indicating Lerner likes Mangini and sees him the next best option off the Belichick tree spells the near certain demise of any chance that Pioli joins the Browns.

As the OBR reported earlier, the situation changed significantly since the process started and Pioli was interviewed on Wednesday. Even before that point, Pioli's candidacy was far from a sure thing based upon his list of demands which has been labeled "extreme," and one "no team could match,"

The PD confirms a report by TheOBR earlier in the day that the probability of Pioli going to Cleveland is dropping with every passing day.


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