Football / Sports

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam sought advice before making big decision

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam sought advice from Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells -- and maybe a whole lot more.

BleacherReport.com's Mike Freeman reported Wednesday that several unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation said Haslam wanted Parcells to run the Browns. The owner ousted CEO Joe Banner and General Manager Mike Lombardi on Tuesday and elevated Ray Farmer from assistant GM to GM, giving him control of football operations and the 53-man roster.

Parcells told Freeman that he spoke to the Browns, though no job offer was made. In an email to Freeman, Parcells explained that he talked to the Browns "only about how I believe organizations succeed and others fail."

A Browns spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Parcells, 72, met extensively with Haslam in South Florida, according to the report. Although the exact nature of the discussions remains nebulous, the bottom line is that Haslam, at the very least, considered whatever Parcells had to say before he hit the reset button on the front office.

Negotiating for Joe Haden

The Browns have engaged in discussions to extend Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden's contract, a league source confirmed Wednesday for the Beacon Journal, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation.

Haden's representatives talked to members of the Browns on Tuesday, although no deal is imminent, the source said.

Haden will enter the final season of his five-year, $50 million rookie contract in 2014, unless his deal, which included $26 million guaranteed and as much as $8 million in incentives, is extended. He is slated to make a base salary of $6,678,193 this year.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Haden has been one of the Browns' best players since they drafted him seventh overall in 2010, and he's coming off his strongest season, one in which he earned his first career Pro Bowl selection and was voted second-team All Pro. In 15 games last season, Haden had 60 tackles, four interceptions and a career-high 21 passes defensed.

In December, Haden, 24, expressed confidence that he would remain with the Browns beyond 2014, although he stopped short of saying talks were underway.

"Yeah, I'm going to be all right," said Haden, whose agent is Drew Rosenhaus. "I'm going to be straight."

Apparently, that is still the case with Farmer in charge.

Receptive to Michael Sam

Haslam issued a statement this week in support of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who appears to be on the verge of becoming the first openly gay NFL player.

Sam, the co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year last season, came out to the world Sunday night. NFLDraftScout.com projects him to be picked in the third or fourth round in May's draft.

Haslam joined several NFL decision-makers, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway, who have assured the rest of the league that they would embrace Sam as a member of their team.

"Absolutely we would welcome Michael Sam to the Cleveland Browns organization if he can help us win games and is the right football player for this team," Haslam said in a news release issued late Monday night. "We are intent on creating an environment that is supportive, accepting and respectful of individual rights and differences."

There is at least one prominent Browns player who would lead the charge in welcoming Sam if he ended up in Cleveland.

Last year, Browns inside linebacker and defensive captain D'Qwell Jackson predicted the NFL was on the brink of having its first openly gay player. Jackson said that was one of the reasons he felt compelled to become an ambassador for Athlete Ally in May 2013. Athlete Ally is an organization dedicated to ending homophobia in sports.

"I have friends that are gay and lesbian, and I just thought it was right just to bring some awareness to the locker room," Jackson said last year. "Being a leader, if I think this is the right thing to do, maybe it can open some eyes of guys that are homophobic.

"At some point, there's going to be a gay NFL player that comes out either this year, the next year or the year after, and you have to be ready to embrace it. And me being a leader in the Cleveland Browns locker room, it's important that we welcome everyone."

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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