Just hours after walking off the field in victory at the Fiesta Bowl, Chip Kelly appeared on the verge of jumping from the Oregon Ducks to the Cleveland Browns ... but that deal isn't yet done.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that Kelly is in the final stages of negotiations to become the next Browns coach. On Friday, Kelly met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner. The Browns have made no secret of their desire to land Kelly, the biggest name amongst a crowded market of potential head coaches.
Initial reports indicated that while Kelly has also had initial discussions with both the Eagles and the Bills, the Eagles decided to back off given how close Kelly was to the Browns. That officially changed on Saturday morning, when it was reported that members of the Eagles' front office have flown to Arizona for a lunch meeting with Kelly, who may also meet with the Bills before he makes his choice. Kelly will round off his Saturday by having dinner with the Browns.
"The Eagles are committed to finding the right fit for head coach and are heading to Arizona now to kick off a week of interviews with a variety of candidates including Mike McCoy, Bruce Arians and Gus Bradley," the team said in a Saturday statement.
ESPN's Chris Mortenson reports that Kelly told Haslam that he does want to go through the interview process with different teams this time. He did not do that before the 2012 season, when he interviewed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was on the verge of taking that job, and returned to Oregon instead.
"It's more a fact-finding mission, finding out if it fits or doesn't fit," Kelly said after the Fiesta Bowl win. "I've been in one interview in my life for the National Football League, and that was a year ago. I don't really have any preconceived notions about it. I think that's what this deal is all about for me. It's not going to affect us in terms of we're not on the road (recruiting). I'll get an opportunity if people do call, see where they are.
"I want to get it wrapped up quickly and figure out where I'm going to be."
Kelly's offensive showmanship, which piloted Oregon to a 46-7 record and national prominence, put him on the NFL's radar. And if Cleveland is able to land the biggest fish of the coaching season, it'll do much to kickstart the franchise.
More news, obviously, as it develops.