The Cleveland Browns are still looking for a vice president of player personnel after announcing that the team will not hire a general manager.
Senior Bowl week has begun and the Cleveland Browns are still to name a vice president of player personnel. Amongst a substantial reshuffle and several new hires it is the one major spot yet to be filled by the team, three weeks since Ray Farmer was relieved of his duties.
Sashi Brown has final say over the roster and essentially fulfills the role of general manager on the Browns. However, with his inexperience running football operations, they are still lacking a leader for their talent acquisition department as draft season kicks into gear.
They have interviewed former NFL general managers Martin Mayhew and Dennis Hickey for the position, and it has been suggested that Chisom Opara is a strong internal candidate. Whilst with the Detroit Lions, Mayhew drafted many talented players such as Matt Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Ziggy Ansah, but the Lions had two winning seasons in his seven years in charge and never seemed to build upon the top-level talent they acquired.
Dennis Hickey spent many years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was the Miami Dolphins general manager for the last two years, where he set up the team’s analytics department. His short tenure in Miami probably is related to owner Stephen Ross’s unfathomable decision to hire Mike Tannenbaum early last year to run their football operations.
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Chisom Opara is a former Princeton wide receiver that began his career in scouting with the Baltimore Ravens. He joined the Ravens as an undrafted free agent and moved into player personnel after failing to make Baltimore’s practice squad. He has been with the Browns for the past 10 years, having followed Phil Savage from the Ravens to Cleveland. He is now a senior player personnel associate for the Browns.
The hire should be coming soon as Sashi Brown said last week they hoped to make the appointment in a week or two. In the mean time Hue Jackson will take a big role in player evaluation and is part of the Browns contingent currently in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. During his single season as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, he essentially assumed the role of general manager upon the death of longtime owner Al Davis.
The Draft is still three months away so there is time yet. In addition, they will be working mostly with the same scouting staff and with their prospect reports, so there should not be wholesale movement in player rankings when the new personnel leader is hired. Where their presence will be felt is in organizing the scouting department and running the draft room, something that has not been a smooth operation for the Browns.
It should not affect upcoming contract negotiations. Sashi Brown has been heavily involved in this in the past and will take the lead in negotiations as part of his role. The Browns have already signed newly minted Pro Bowl tight end Gary Barnidge to a good deal, and have important negotiations coming up with right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and wide receiver Travis Benjamin. Schwartz will be looking for a big deal and recently discussed free agency on Twitter with former Browns CEO Joe Banner.
The Browns have hired well so far this offseason and one major position remains. Hopefully they can continue in the same vein.