Could this finally be it in Cleveland?
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Browns are attempting to hire Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as the franchise's 15th full-time head coach Thursday, according to team sources.
The development comes one day after team brass voyaged to Florida to sit down with former Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, the latest -- and surprising -- name in a long list of candidates Cleveland has spoken to since firing Rob Chudzinski on the heels of a 4-12 campaign. Schiano has been ruled out as an option, according to Rapoport.
Pettine has toiled through two rounds of interviews with the Browns and flew back to Cleveland on Thursday for a third meeting centered on who will coordinate the defense and call plays for an offense still lacking a franchise quarterback. Rapoport believes Pettine is the only candidate in town Thursday to meet with the club.
Pettine reportedly wants the job "badly" and sounds willing to work with a crowded front-office structure that includes CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi under Jimmy Haslam, the team owner who has played an active role in the search.
Pettine, who also once was the New York Jets defensive coordinator, helped Buffalo's unit achieve a franchise-best 57 sacks last season in a scheme that featured the Bills attacking the quarterback and hauling in 23 interceptions. Both totals ranked second in the league.