Pioli is New England's vice president of player personnel and is credited with helping build the team that has played in four Super Bowls this decade.
Lerner also says Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is on his list of possible candidates to succeed head coach Romeo Crennel. Crennel was fired by the Browns on Monday following a disappointing 4-12 season. Phil Savage was dismissed as the team's GM late Sunday night.
Lerner has begun interviewing for both openings and met with Bill Cowher on Saturday night in New York. The former Pittsburgh Steelers coach and current CBS analyst told Lerner he has no intention of returning to coaching in 2009. He asked Lerner to remove him from his list of coaching candidates.
Lerner also expressed an interest in speaking with Bill Parcells, if he leaves the Miami Dolphins. Floyd Reese, Charley Casserly and Tom Donahoe are other possibilities for the executive job.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press