The Cleveland Browns' quest to find their seventh full-time head coach since 1999 became a week old as of Sunday night.
And it could last at least another week.
If the Browns want to fill their vacancy with an NFL assistant who's in the playoffs such as Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, they'll find themselves playing the waiting game. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner said last week they wouldn't place a time limit on the search.
The Browns asked for permission last week to interview Gase, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Browns are not commenting on interviews during the search. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported Sunday that it was the first request the organization made after firing Rob Chudzinski Dec. 29.
Gase, though, told Denver reporters he would postpone any interview opportunities until the Broncos are done. He also reportedly received a request from the Minnesota Vikings.
"I told both teams that were interested in me that I appreciated it and I was going to wait until after our season had concluded," Gase said Friday. "They were great about it. They said they appreciated me being up front and honest about it, and I thought that was the best decision for what we are trying to accomplish with our team."
The Browns requested and received permission to interview McDaniels. The meeting took place Saturday in the New England area, according to several national reports.
Still, NFL rules prohibit teams from offering jobs to assistant coaches in the playoffs until their teams are finished with the postseason. Agreements of any such nature are not allowed.
Gase, 35, and the Broncos had a bye this past weekend and won't be in action until they face the San Diego Chargers Jan. 12. McDaniels, 37, and the Patriots also had a bye and will face the Indianapolis Colts a day earlier.
The Browns, of course, could hire a coach before Gase or McDaniels finish the season by going another route.
The Browns are interested in college coaches, too, but La Canfora reported the University of Oklahoma's Bob Stoops is not one of them. La Canfora became the latest to shoot down a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport that labeled Stoops, 53, a leading candidate for the job and stated he was expected to interview with the Browns this week.
Instead, Vanderbilt University's James Franklin and Auburn University's Gus Malzahn are the college coaches on the Browns' radar, La Canfora reported.
Franklin, 41, is done with his season. He led Vanderbilt to a 41-24 win over the University of Houston on Saturday in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Malzahn, 48, and Southeastern Conference champion Auburn will face Florida State in the BCS Championship Game tonight.
The Browns also reportedly interviewed Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, 43, and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, 50, last week. Quinn is in the same boat as Gase and McDaniels because the Seahawks had a bye and will face the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 11. Bowles is free to accept a job anytime because the Cardinals missed the playoffs despite going 10-6.
But this is the bottom line: If the Browns are determined to lure an assistant away from a playoff team, they'll need to exercise patience -- something they didn't do when they handed Chudzinski a pink slip after only one season on the job.
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