AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND — Browns owner Jimmy Haslam isn’t listening to relocation proposals for Los Angeles. He’s too busy finding a new coach.
Haslam is not attending the NFL owners’ meetings in Houston as the team narrows its search for a new coach, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Haslam’s wife, Dee, who has owned Cleveland’s franchise with her husband since 2012, is at the meetings where owners will vote on the future of pro football in Los Angeles, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the Browns coaching search.
Cleveland has interviewed seven candidates with Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson emerging as a front-runner. The Browns have not yet offered their job to the 50-year-old Jackson, who has also interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers and could draw interest from other teams.
It’s possible the 49ers have moved on from Jackson. The team met Tuesday with former New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The AP. The two-time Super Bowl-winning coach met with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke at an unspecified location on the East Coast, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team isn’t making public its interviews or candidates to replace the fired Jim Tomsula.
It’s not clear whether the Browns have any more interviews scheduled. They met with Jackson on Sunday, a day after the Bengals were beaten in an AFC wild-card game by Pittsburgh.
Jackson spent more than four hours meeting with Cleveland’s search committee, which spent last week bouncing around the country talking to prospective coaches.
Jackson’s background working with quarterbacks, his knowledge of the AFC North, and his experience as Oakland’s coach has made him attractive to the Browns. Cleveland owns the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, a selection they could use on a quarterback, perhaps California’s Jared Goff or Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, considered the top two college QBs in the 2016 class.
Jackson went 8-8 in his only season coaching the Raiders in 2011. He was fired amid an ownership change and joined Marvin Lewis’ staff in Cincinnati as a defensive assistant. He previously coached the Bengals wide receivers from 2004-06.
He has served as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons. The Bengals ranked 15th in overall offense and quarterback Andy Dalton had his best statistical season before injuring his right thumb late in the season.
The Browns are looking for their sixth coach since 2008. The Haslams fired Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer on Jan. 3, hours after a loss to the Steelers in the season finale.
Cleveland has confirmed interviews with Adam Gase, Chicago’s former offensive coordinator who was hired by Miami; Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin; Jacksonville assistant Doug Marrone; Dallas secondary coach Jerome Henderson; New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia; and Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.