Austin is a hot candidate after leading a top-five defensive unit in 2014. After losing Ndamukong Suh and star linebacker DeAndre Levy this season, Austin's unit struggled early, but has solidified down the stretch. Austin has shown the ability to game plan against top offenses and his halftime adjustments have been on point. Austin is highly thought of in coaching circles and the Browns' gig likely won't be the only interview he'll take.
Gase was high on many coaching lists last season and the same will be true this offseason. The Bears offensive coordinator turned down an opportunity to interview with the Browns two years ago before Pettine was hired. After earning praise for his work with Peyton Manning the previous two years in Denver, Gase has received acclaim for creating a productive Jay Cutler. Gase has designed game plans to protect Cutler from himself. A team with a shaky quarterback situation, like Cleveland, could view Gase as the best option to handle the NFL's most important position.
Marrone was a popular candidate last offseason after he opted out of his contract in Buffalo. When the music stopped on the coaching carousel, however, Marrone was left without a seat. He has spent the season coaching the offensive line in Jacksonville. The former head coach remains well thought of in some circles, despite the smear job that emanated from New York last season. Marrone led a Bills team to a 9-7 record last season. Rex Ryan has taken the same squad to 7-8.
As Around The NFL's Conor Orr points out, Cleveland has not had a coach finish his tenure with a winning record since Marty Schottenheimer in 1988. No coach has lasted more than 65 games since Bill Belichick in 1995.