Report: Browns close to deal with Kelly

A person familiar with the negotiations says the Cleveland
Browns are close to a deal with Oregon’s Chip Kelly to become their
next coach.

The Browns interviewed Kelly on Friday and the Ducks coach was
supposed to meet with Philadelphia. However, a person familiar with
the interviews says the Eagles are ”heading in another direction”
because Kelly is nearing a deal with Cleveland.

That person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of
anonymity because the team isn’t discussing its negotiations
publicly, said the Eagles planned to interview several other
candidates regardless of any conversations with Kelly.

The Eagles were granted permission Friday to interview Colts
offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seahawks defensive
coordinator Gus Bradley and are scheduled to meet with Broncos
offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Sunday.

Following Oregon’s win over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on
Thursday night, the 49-year-old Kelly said he wanted to get the
interview process over ”quickly.”

He turned down an offer from Tampa Bay last year to return for
his fourth season at Oregon, where he is 46-7. He has boosted the
school’s national profile with a high-powered offense capable of
turning any game into a track meet.

”It’s more a fact-finding mission, finding out if it fits or
doesn’t fit,” Kelly said after the Ducks beat No. 7 Kansas State
35-17. ”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 has been at the top of the Browns’ list of candidates
since the team fired Pat Shurmur, who went 9-23 in two seasons.
Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have been
conducting interviews in Arizona all week, searching for the team’s
sixth coach since 1999.

The Browns have declined comment on any interviews.

Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton confirmed he
interviewed with Cleveland earlier this week. The Browns have
reportedly met with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Syracuse
coach Doug Marrone and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, who removed
himself from any consideration on Thursday night and intends to
stay at the school.

Kelly doesn’t have any NFL coaching experience, but aspects of
his up-tempo offense are already being used by some teams.

Kelly wouldn’t say if he was leaning one way or another
following the Ducks’ bowl win.

”I said I’ll always listen, and that’s what I’ll do,” he said.
”I know that people want to talk to me because of our players. The
success of our football program has always been about our guys.
It’s an honor for someone to say they’d want to talk to me about
maybe moving on to go coach in the National Football League. But
it’s because of what those guys do. I’ll listen, and we’ll
see.”

Oregon could be facing possible NCAA sanctions for the school’s
use of recruiting services, but Kelly indicated he isn’t running
from anything.

”We’ve cooperated fully with them,” he said. ”If they want to
talk to us again, we’ll continue to cooperate fully. I feel
confident in the situation.”

Oregon’s players gave Kelly a Gatorade bath as the final seconds
ticked off the clock in Thursday night’s game, and afterward a few
of the Ducks seemed resigned to their coach moving on.

”We’ll have to see,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said.
”Whatever he decides to do, we’re all behind him. He’s an
unbelievable coach. He’s not only a football coach, but he’s
someone that you can look to and learn a lot of life lessons from.
Whatever happens, happens. But we’re all behind him.

”We’ll see where it takes us.”

—(equals)

AP Football Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to
this report.

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