CLEVELAND — The Browns figured they could close a deal with Chip Kelly over dinner.
That was before the Eagles took Oregon’s coach to a lengthy lunch.
Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner spent much of Saturday waiting for a second meeting with Kelly, the Ducks’ offensive mastermind, to hopefully finalize an agreement to make him the Browns’ sixth full-time coach since 1999.
However, Kelly decided to keep a scheduled interview with Philadelphia that lasted longer than expected and carried into the night, delaying the Browns’ second chance at signing college football’s hottest coach.
Kelly and his representatives had met Haslam and Banner for a reported seven hours in Arizona on Friday. They came close to reaching a deal, but the sides parted company without a financial agreement with signs pointing toward Kelly leaning toward joining the Browns.
Kelly also met with the Buffalo Bills on Friday, and he decided to keep his appointment with the Eagles, who had briefly pulled their interest in pursuing the 49-year-old after they learned a deal between Kelly and Cleveland was near. It’s possible Kelly and his agent, David Dunn, are meeting with the other teams to gain leverage with the Browns and sweeten the coach’s contract.
But there’s also a chance Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman are making a hard push at Kelly to steal him away from the Browns.
Banner spent 19 seasons with Philadelphia, the past 12 as president, but left the club last year and has had a falling out with Lurie, a longtime friend.
— The Associated Press