Five days later, he decided to stay in New England.
Which answers a question that a few days ago seemed unanswerable: Why would a coach working in a good situation with an all-time great quarterback and Hall of Fame mentor want to take a job with a losing team that fired its coach after one season?
The answer: He wouldn’t.
The news that McDaniels withdrew came from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who reported McDaniels had an excellent conversation with the Browns, but decided he was better off with the Patriots.
McDaniels’ one experience as a head coach in Denver ended poorly. At the age of 37, he doesn’t need to take a chance with another risky situation, which clearly is the situation in Cleveland.
Which leaves the Browns a ways from the “proven winner” they said they would hire when they started the coach search.
They spent Wednesday talking to Green Bay quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo. He’s never been a coordinator, much less a head coach. Though most in the league feel McAdoo is not ready, Browns CEO Joe Banner was with the Eagles when Jeff Lurie hired an unknown quarterbacks coach from Green Bay named Andy Reid.
The Browns also have interviewed Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. They have asked for permission to talk to Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, but he has declined to talk until Denver is out of the playoffs.
The Browns have been rumored to be interested in Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. But Franklin has been linked to Penn State and he met with his Athletic Director at Vanderbilt on Tuesday night.
Malzahn agreed to a contract extension at Auburn on Dec. 7.
In addition, rumors that the Browns were interested in Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops turned out to be untrue.
Where this leaves the Browns is anyone’s guess.
A search is never over until it’s over -- to paraphrase Yogi Berra -- and the Browns may have a surprise up their sleeve.
But if they don’t, they are left with some names that haven’t exactly inspired the fan population.
It doesn’t mean the new coach can’t win, but it does make what is already a tough sell a little tougher.