The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

January 5, 2013

Browns close to deal with Chip Kelly to be next coach

CLEVELAND — Chip Kelly is closer to taking his fast-paced offense to the NFL.

A person familiar with the negotiations said the Cleveland Browns are nearing a deal with Oregon's offensive mastermind to be their next coach.

The Browns interviewed Kelly on Friday and the Ducks' coach also met with the Buffalo Bills in Arizona. Kelly has a scheduled interview with Philadelphia on Saturday. However, a person familiar with the interview said the Eagles are "heading in another direction" because Kelly is nearing a deal with Cleveland.

That person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team isn't discussing its negotiations publicly, said the Eagles planned to interview several other candidates regardless of any conversations with Kelly. The Eagles were granted permission Friday to interview Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and plan to meet Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Sunday.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported late Friday night that the Browns and Kelly met for seven hours — five in negotiations with a two-hour break for dinner — and agreed to talk again Saturday night. Mortensen said Kelly said still intends to meet with the Eagles some time on Saturday. The Browns are "favored," Mortensen reported.

The Bills confirmed in an email they met with Kelly, but gave no indication of how long they spoke to him. The team also interviewed former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and Syracuse's Doug Marrone.

The Browns, who made their last playoff appearance 10 years ago on Saturday, have declined to comment on any interviews during their coaching search.

Following Oregon's win over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday night, the 49-year-old Kelly said he wanted to get the interview process over "quickly."

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