National Football League
Shurmur, Heckert fired in Cleveland
National Football League

Shurmur, Heckert fired in Cleveland

Published Dec. 31, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

The Cleveland Browns changed ownership and management earlier this year.

The franchise will now be replacing its head coach and general manager as well.

Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert Jr. were fired Monday morning following the completion of a 5-11 season, NFL insider Jay Glazer has learned.

''We felt that these moves were in the best interests of the Cleveland Browns and our future,'' Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. ''I enjoyed getting to know Tom and Pat over the past several months, and want to thank them, not just for their contributions to the Browns, but also the insight they were able to provide.''


The futures of Shurmur and Heckert came into question as soon as Haslam purchased the Browns from Randy Lerner during the preseason. Haslam hired former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner to oversee the team and replace Mike Holmgren, who named Heckert as his general manager in 2010. Shurmur was hired as head coach the following year.

Banner, Heckert and Shurmur were all with the Philadelphia Eagles during the previous decade. Those ties, though, didn't help Shurmur or Heckert keep their jobs as Banner seeks to place his own fingerprints on the Browns.

Already, the list of possible coaches to take over for Shurmur includes some of college football's top names. Haslam may want to make a big splash and land either Alabama's Nick Saban or Oregon's Chip Kelly, who both still have bowl games ahead. Penn State's Bill O'Brien is also believed to be on the Browns' short list.

There is also reported interest in several NFL assistants including Indianapolis' Bruce Arians, New England's Josh McDaniels, Denver's Mike McCoy, Washington's Kyle Shanahan and Cincinnati's Jay Gruden.

Among the general manager candidates are: Atlanta player personnel director David Caldwell, San Francisco director of player personnel Tom Gamble, Baltimore assistant GM Eric DeCosta and NFL Network analyst and Mike Lombardi, who worked with Banner in Philadelphia and for the Browns when Bill Belichick was Cleveland's coach.

Banner promised in a recent interview with The Associated Press not to put any limits on his search for a new coach. ''It doesn't have to be a college coach,'' said Banner, who hired Andy Reid during his 19 seasons with the Eagles. ''It doesn't have to be a pro coach. It doesn't have to be an offensive guy. It doesn't have to be a defensive guy. I'm more looking for qualities of a person consistent with the most successful coaches.''

Shurmur, who was emotional when he addressed the Browns following Sunday's loss, leaves the team with some satisfaction.

''I am extremely proud of the players on this team, who I felt made tremendous strides and helped to make the Cleveland Browns relevant again,'' Shurmur said in a release. ''I want to thank them, as well as my entire coaching staff for making the past two years enjoyable. My coaches are outstanding teachers and even better men. They helped me lead these players through a unique time of transition.

''This group of players will achieve success soon, and there will be a part of me that will feel very good when that happens.''

The Browns were 4-12 in Shurmur's first season but began showing improvement in 2012 while fielding one of the NFL's youngest teams. The growth of three rookies — quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Trent Richardson and wide receiver Josh Gordon — had Shurmur bullish about Cleveland's future.

With Shurmur and Heckert out, Cleveland could be in the market again at quarterback. Shurmur thought Weeden could develop into a quality passer. Weeden, though, is 29 years old and struggled during his rookie campaign.

Cleveland's next head coach will be the sixth different hire since the franchise resumed play in 1999. The Browns have yet to win a playoff game since their return and posted only two winning records in 14 seasons.

Shurmur previously served as offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. Considered one of the NFL's top offensive minds, Shurmur should be in high demand for coordinator positions around the league.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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