General manager George Kokinis is "no longer actively involved" with the Cleveland Browns organization, the team said in a statement Monday night.
Earlier in the day, several reports surfaced indicating that Kokinis had been fired by the 1-7 team. Citing unnamed league sources, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and NBC affiliate WKYC-TV3 in Cleveland said Kokinis was escorted out of the Browns' headquarters by security on Monday.
"In response to rumors and reports that Kokinis was escorted out of the building today, the Browns deny those reports," the Browns' statement said. "In the interest of protecting the parties involved we will withhold further comment."
According to NFL Network insider Michael Lombardi, Kokinis has not been involved in any of the team's recent decisions and has been something of an outcast within the organization, with coach Eric Mangini making the front office decisions.
Kokinis was hired in January, just two weeks after the team named Mangini as its fourth coach since 1999. Following Sundayâs 30-6 loss in Chicago, Browns owner Randy Lerner said he was "sick" about the state of his team, and that he would like to bring in a "strong, credible, serious leader" to help run his team, according to multiple published reports.
Recently, Lerner brought in former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar in an unspecified consulting role. One possibility could be Ernie Accorsi, who was Cleveland's GM from 1985-92, when Kosar led the Browns to three AFC title games. Accorsi was the New York Giants' GM for nine years before retiring after the 2006 season. His biggest move was a trade with San Diego for quarterback Eli Manning.
Mangini said he would welcome anyone who could help the Browns get better.
"If you can add quality people that can help you get better, then you do that," he said. "You're always searching for those opportunities."
Already in Mangini's first year in Cleveland, the Browns have dealt with a lengthy list of on- and off-the-field circumstances.
Mangini was criticized for making his rookies take a 10-hour bus ride to his football camp in Connecticut and later for fining one of his players $1,701 for not paying for a $3 bottle of water during a hotel stay. There's been the ongoing quarterback saga involving Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, the trade of Edwards two days after he allegedly punched a friend of NBA star LeBron James, a flu outbreak that hit 12 players, cornerback Eric Wright's car accident and other situations.
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report