Atlanta's offensive coordinator, who spent two seasons as the Buffalo Bills' coach, interviewed in Cleveland on Saturday, breaking away from the Falcons' playoff prep to visit with Browns president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert.
The Browns' top executives went to Atlanta for the interview, the second one formally conducted by the team in its search to replace Eric Mangini, who was fired after two seasons.
On Friday, the Browns interviewed St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur in Cleveland. Next week, they intend to interview New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and perhaps Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
It's also possible the Browns will talk to Jon Gruden and John Fox -- that is, if the Browns haven't already done so. The team is keeping the search for its fifth coach since 1999 extremely low-key, choosing only to confirm interviews after they've taken place.
Mularkey previously canceled a meeting with the Denver Broncos, but he kept his appointment with the Browns because they called him first. Unlike Shurmur, Mularkey has head-coaching experience that could give him an advantage, and he's also familiar with the AFC North.
The Bills went 14-18 in their two seasons (2004-05) under Mularkey. He led Buffalo to a 9-7 record in his first season, the team's first winning one in five years. He resigned in 2006 amid philosophical differences with the team's front office.
Before he was hired in Buffalo, Mularkey spent eight seasons in Pittsburgh on Bill Cowher's staff. He was the Steelers' offensive coordinator for three seasons, and under his watch, they were ranked third and fifth, respectively, in total offense in his first two years.
Mularkey helped refine quarterback Kordell Stewart and revived quarterback Tommy Maddox's career. Maddox was voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year when he played in Mularkey's offense.
The Browns plan to interview Fewell on Tuesday or Wednesday. They're also likely to meet with Mornhinweg, who wasn't permitted to speak with the team this week because the Eagles are in a wild-card playoff game.
Mornhinweg is close to Holmgren, who coached him in high school and later had him on his staff. He also runs the type of offense that Holmgren would like to bring to Cleveland, a much more wide-open passing game than the Browns used with Mangini and coordinator Brian Daboll.
Mornhinweg went 5-27 as coach of the Detroit Lions (2001-02).
Mangini was fired by Holmgren on Monday, one day after a 41-9 home loss to Pittsburgh dropped him to 5-11 for the second consecutive season.
On Monday, Holmgren is scheduled to meet with Cleveland's assistant coaches. After firing Mangini, Holmgren gave the coaches the remainder of the week off, allowing them to make contacts and set up interviews elsewhere. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan interviewed for the Carolina Panthers' head-coach opening.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press