Cleveland GM Search Continues

The Cleveland Browns are moving forward with their plans to put a coaching staff and GM in place with or without Scott Pioli. Though he hasn't been ruled out, the chances he goes to Ohio drop each day that passes.

While Eric Mangini was named as the replacement for fired coach Romeo Crennel on Thursday, the hunt for a general manager has been more challenging.

Randy Lerner is determined to have a general manager and head coach that are compatible. In the end, incompatibility contributed to the downfall of the Phil Savage-Crennel tandem.

Mangini recommended Ravens pro personnel director George Kokinis for the GM job in his interview with Lerner. Kokinis was interviewed by Lerner on Sunday in the New York area, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

The interview apparently went well, but should the Browns go with Kokinis, they may have to wait a while. With Baltimore's season still going, the Ravens have to give Cleveland permission to hire Kokinis.

That's not likely to happen with Baltimore scouting for its game against Pittsburgh this season. And should the Ravens advance to the Super Bowl, it's conceivable Kokinis won't be available until Feb. 2.

Kokinis would have duties he has never had before, such as running the draft, but even though he was not picking the players he has been part of the draft process in Baltimore.

Kokinis, the Ravens' sixth-year pro personnel director now in his 18th NFL season, was part of the Ravens entourage that worked out Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco in a pre-draft workout last year. The Ravens ended up drafting Flacco in the first round, and now he has them one victory from the AFC championship game.

The Browns are still talking with Patriots vice president of personnel Scott Pioli, but all signs point to Kokinis becoming general manager soon after the Ravens' season ends.

Pioli was Lerner's first choice as the search process began, but there were concerns about how Pioli and Mangini would work together and whether there would be any fallout from Spygate.

Lerner also plans to interview Eagles general manager Tom Heckert, whose father was a scout with the Browns in the 1980s. As with Kokinis, Heckert's team has a playoff game on the horizon - against the Giants in the Meadowlands.

Heckert manages the Eagles' college scouting and pro personnel department and is in charge of their draft. He does not have final say on the 53-man roster. Coach Andy Reid takes care of that.

Heckert's name has been linked with Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo coached with the Eagles before moving to the Giants.

Browns current pro personnel director T.J. McCreight has also been interviewed for the general manager job.

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