Browns extend offensive coordinator's contract through 2011

CLEVELAND -- Fearing they might lose him to a division rival, the Cleveland Browns signed offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to a contract extension through 2011 on Monday.

Chudzinski, who transformed the Browns' offense into one of the NFL's top units in his first season, had been scheduled to interview for Baltimore's head coaching vacancy. However, the Browns stepped in and gave him a new deal.

However, Browns general manager Phil Savage stepped in before Chudzinski had a chance to meet with the Ravens and awarded the 39-year-old the extension which will keep him on Romeo's Crennel's staff.

"Romeo and I felt it was important to keep Rob in place as offensive coordinator to maintain our continuity on that side of the ball," said Phil Savage. "He did a terrific job this year and we're looking forward to what this group can accomplish next season."

Chudzinski, who joined the Browns after the 2006 season, had been signed through the 2009 season.

Cleveland's offense scored 402 points, averaged 25.1 points and finished ranked eighth in total yards under Chudzinski. The previous season, the Browns scored 238 points and ranked 31st in offense.

The Browns were worried that Chudzinski could do the same for the Ravens, who fired Brian Billick on Dec. 31 following a 5-11 season.

"I would like to thank (Ravens GM) Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens organization for considering me as a candidate for their head coaching position," Chudzinski said in a statement. "However, at this time it was the best decision for me both personally and professionally to stay in Cleveland and continue the rebuilding process with the Browns."

With Chudzinski calling plays, Cleveland was the only team in the league to have a 1,000-yard rusher (Jamal Lewis) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards). Also, quarterback Derek Anderson, who began the season as Charlie Frye's backup, threw 29 touchdown passes and was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

Chudzinski was San Diego's tight ends coach for two seasons before joining Crennel's staff last January. Cleveland's offense carried the Browns, who went 10-6 this season and barely missed making the AFC playoffs.

He was Cleveland's tight ends coach in 2004 under Butch Davis, and tutored Winslow as tight ends coach at the University of Miami.

Chudzinski grew up as a big Browns fan in Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed returning to the area. His wife, Sheila, recently gave birth to the couple's second child.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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