Report: Browns want Pioli decision soon

The Browns had set a Thursday deadline for New England Patriots vice president Scott Pioli to make a decision on becoming Cleveland's top football executive, the Boston Herald reported, citing sources familiar with the negotiations.

According to the report, Pioli and Browns owner Randy Lerner, who met Wednesday in New York, left the meeting with no deal in place, but a deadline for Pioli to make a decision was established.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, however, citing a league source with knowledge of the negotiations, said Pioli was not given a deadline.

Thursday came and went without word of Pioli making a decision.

The Herald previously reported that Lerner was prepared to make a "huge" financial offer to Pioli that would include full control of the Browns' football operations, and that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was Pioli's first choice to replace Romeo Crennel as head coach.

After his Hawkeyes defeated South Carolina in the Outback Bowl on Thursday, Ferentz told ESPN's Rob Stone that any talk about the Browns' job was premature.

The Herald reported that according to a source, Pioli made demands that would be impossible for any team to meet -- leaving some in the Browns organization wondering if Pioli really wants to leave the Patriots.

For the vacant coaching job, Lerner has met with former New York Jets coach Eric Mangini and New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and set up interviews with Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who spent three years in the Browns' personnel department as a pro and college scout in the 1990s; and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, a Canton, Ohio, native.

49-year-old Spagnuolo has an interview with the Jets scheduled for
Saturday. The Detroit Lions
are also expected to meet with Spagnuolo.

The Plain Dealer reported the Browns also are interested in meeting with ex-Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Pioli, who has been coach Bill Belichick's right-hand man in the Patriots' front office since 2000, is also being sought by the Kansas City Chiefs, according to media reports.

But the Kansas City Star reported that Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt already has determined the team will split up the duties that had been the sole responsibility of former general manager Carl Peterson, with a new team president handling business affairs and a GM handling football operations. That would seem to run counter to Pioli's reported interest in full control.

The Browns also were preparing to talk with Atlanta president Rich McKay on Thursday for the football operations job, but because the Falcons are preparing for Saturday's playoff game, that interview has been postponed, a source told the Plain Dealer.