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Cleveland Browns' sale could end Mike Holmgren era

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The Cleveland Browns have been sold by Randy Lerner to Jimmy Haslam. Browns fans will be happy that a new era is on the way, but the move raises a lot of questions. We hope to provide answers.

Jimmy Haslam has been a minority investor in the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Randy Lerner completed a sale of the Cleveland Browns on Thursday to the Tennessee businessman.
Jimmy Haslam has been a minority investor in the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Randy Lerner completed a sale of the Cleveland Browns on Thursday to the Tennessee businessman. (Pilot Flying J/Associated Press)

1. When will the sale be officially official?

NFL owners still have to vote to approve the sale. That is expected to take place by October. Haslam also must sell his minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

2. What will happen to Browns president Mike Holmgren?

Holmgren admitted to the press that his future is up in the air. NFL Network reported that former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner will be part of Haslam's management group. It's hard to imagine Banner and Holmgren co-existing. Holmgren had more organizational power than any non-owner personnel guy in the NFL, save perhaps Bill Belichick and Andy Reid.

It seems like a matter of when -- not if -- Holmgren will be gone. It wouldn't be totally shocking if he were no longer with the team before the end of the 2012 season.

3. How about coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert?

Shurmur should coach the Browns this year. After that, all bets are off. Shurmur and Heckert have worked under Banner before, which certainly can't hurt their chances of sticking long-term. But we suspect Shurmur will have to win a surprising amount of games this year (eight or more) to keep his job with new ownership in town. That's usually how these things go. (No matter what ownership says on Day 1.)


The coaches of the NFL weigh in on a number of hot-button topics in the league, including Andrew Luck vs. RG3, Tim Tebow, challenge flag etiquette, the Packers' QB tree and the 2012 Hall of Fame class.

It's easier to imagine Heckert sticking around even if Holmgren leaves.

4. Should Browns fans be excited?

It's a great thing long-term for the Browns to have an owner who will be more involved in the day-to-day running of the team after the Lerners' forgettable tenure. (They twice had a winning record in 13 years. They haven't won more than six games since Derek Anderson's year in the sun.)

In the next year or three, yet another rebuild is not a good thing.

The impending sale makes life very tough on Shurmur and the current Browns. If the Browns have a new coach in 2013, it's very possible he won't be a Brandon Weeden fan. It's possible the defense will switch back from a 4-3 group to a 3-4 unit once again. The Browns start over every two to three years. It's going to happen again.

5. What else are we forgetting?

Perhaps this change will improve Jim Brown's relationship with the organization he helped make famous. We hope so.

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