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Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi leaving Browns

The offseason shake-up continues in Cleveland.

The Browns on Tuesday announced that CEO Joe Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi are leaving the organization.


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Ray Farmer, who toiled under Lombardi, has been promoted to general manager effective immediately. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Farmer's mentor -- former Kansas City Chiefs executive Bill Kuharich -- will assist the new Cleveland GM on personnel matters, according to a Browns source.

Banner, set to exit over the next two months, called the transition "bittersweet" in a statement released by the Browns on Tuesday.

In the statement, team owner Jimmy Haslam thanked Banner and Lombardi for their services before quickly shifting the spotlight to his new hand-picked GM, saying that "we're fortunate" to have Farmer, who "embraces his partnership with (coach) Mike Pettine."

Add it all up, and Tuesday's events are a crystal-clear indication that Haslam was fully tired of a Banner-led front office that surfaced as the butt of jokes after firing coach Rob Chudzinski following just one season on the job.

Cleveland's front office -- seen around the league as a top-heavy, confusing mass -- has been streamlined. The timing is surprising, perhaps, in that Banner and Lombardi were given input in the hiring of Pettine, but that elongated recruiting process had Haslam's fingerprints all over it from the start.

Rapoport also reported Tuesday that firing Lombardi was not a new thought. Had they hired Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, the Browns wanted to pair him with Seattle Seahawks executive Scot McCloughan, according to a source informed of the team's thinking.

Haslam and the organization invariably will be ripped for another waterfall of deep-cutting changes, but one of the NFL's more dysfunctional milieus has been pared down considerably.

The big winner here might be Pettine. The black cloud hanging over his young tenure as coach was a sense that he wouldn't wield any say over his own roster. Instead of dealing with layers of front-office men, Pettine will now work hand-in-hand with Farmer to rebuild a Browns team that hasn't won a playoff game since New Year's Day 1995.

On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys talk Michael Sam, potential big-name cap casualties, and offseason forecasts for the Steelers and Jaguars.

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