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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