“Sources within the Browns organization say they expect that coach Mike Pettine will survive this season despite the failure of the team,” Cole said Monday. “Those sources indicate that the bigger problem within the Browns’ organization is not Pettine but is actually general manager Ray Farmer and the selections that Farmer has made throughout his tenure, and even before that when he was under [former Browns CEO] Joe Banner.
“The problem here is more of a personnel issue, and that is what is going to have to be fixed by [owner Jimmy] Haslam.”
One needn’t search far and wide to see the personnel issues in question. Of the Browns’ four first-round picks made in the last two years, none can be considered a big success. Of 2014’s first-rounders, Johnny Manziel has made progress at quarterback, while Justin Gilbert only occasionally sees the field and has been said to have an atrocious attitude and work ethic. In the class of 2015, defensive tackle Danny Shelton has been solid if unspectacular, while offensive lineman Cameron Erving has been mired in one of the worst blocking stretches in recent memory.
If Farmer is indeed let go, word is that Green Bay Packers director of pro personnel Eliot Wolf (son of longtime Packers exec Ron Wolf) could be a candidate for the GM job. In addition to Wolf, Cole said that leading candidates to replace Farmer would include Cincinnati Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin, Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager George Paton, and Kansas City Chiefs Director of Football Operations Chris Ballard.
“Those three gentlemen are considered the top three candidates by the NFL for possible general manager positions around the league,” Cole said. “This is the course that Haslam may take as he tries to fix a continual problem with the Browns since he has taken over the ownership of that team.”
Per the Plain Dealer‘s Mary Kay Cabot, “Haslam has not made up his mind yet and that he’s taking his time and considering all four of his options: keeping Pettine and Farmer, firing both, or keeping one or the other.” Cabot says that decisions are likely to be carried out after the season finale against Pittsburgh.