PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The Browns will pursue one of this year's hottest head coaching candidates in Penn State's Bill O'Brien, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
But Browns CEO Joe Banner will most likely have to compete with his former Eagles team for O'Brien's services, Mortensen said. Eagles coach Andy Reid was fired Sunday night, according to CSN Philadelphia's Reuben Frank.
The Browns are also expected to heavily pursue Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, who's this year's "it" candidate, a source told The Plain Dealer. The Eagles and Panthers are also expected to be after Kelly, who is 45-7 in his four years at Oregon. The Browns will have to wait to interview Kelly until after he coaches Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.
O'Brien, the Patriots' former offensive coordinator, was named Big Ten Coach of the Year after guiding the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. O'Brien was also named ESPN's national coach of the year.
O'Brien for Patriots coach Bill Belichick from 2007 until he left to take the Penn State job this year. When he took the job he had been assured the Sandusky matter would be handled from a criminal standpoint and not by the NCAA. Instead, Penn State was slapped with a four-year bowl ban and the loss of 40 scholarships.
In New England, O'Brien coached wide receivers and quarterbacks, and served as coordinator in 2011, the year the Patriots lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. O'Brien also had a chance to interview with the Jaguars last year, but declined.
Mortensen estimated it would take $9.2 million to buy out O'Brien's contract.
This post was edited on 12/31 at 9:45 am