The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, January 01, 2020 1:00 am

Browns, GM Dorsey go separate ways

McCarthy to interview to be coach

TOM WITHERS | Associated Press

CLEVELAND – The Browns ended 2019 the same way they began the year – coach-less and some would argue clueless as well.

Cleveland's ringing in 2020 amid more chaos for a perpetually chaotic franchise after Browns general manager John Dorsey resigned, his stunning departure coming just two days after coach Freddie Kitchens was fired following a disappointing 6-10 season.

Dorsey, who in two years turned around a roster that went 0-16 in 2017 to one loaded with talent, left after refusing to accept a reduced role in the organization offered by owner Jimmy Haslam. So, once again, Haslam and his wife, Dee, are restructuring the team's front office while saying goodbye to another GM.

And while Dorsey's exit has added another layer of disarray, the Browns will interview former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy for their vacancy Thursday, a person familiar with the team's plans told the Associated Press.

McCarthy's interview will be the first in Cleveland's search, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

McCarthy was believed to be the front-runner for the Browns' job last year but surprisingly didn't interview. The team has also requested permission to interview Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, said the person. Bieniemy joins a list of Browns candidates that includes assistants Josh McDaniels, Greg Roman, Robert Saleh, Kevin Stefanski and Brian Daboll.

Dorsey had successfully revamped the Browns during his two seasons, but his hiring of Kitchens a year ago backfired as the Browns won one fewer game and fell way short of expectations while missing the playoffs for the 17th straight season – the NFL's longest current drought.

In a prepared statement, the Haslams thanked Dorsey for his efforts and applauded him for creating a foundation “we need to continue to develop and build upon.”

The Haslams acknowledged Dorsey had “greatly” improved the team's talent, but the Browns' failure to reach their potential this season necessitated more change.

“As the role of the general manager continues to evolve in this league we felt there were areas that needed to be reassessed,” they said. “Over the last 48 hours, we've had discussion with John about his role but could not come to an agreement on a position that would enable him to remain with the organization.”

It's another blowup by the Haslams, who are perfecting the tear down. They've been unable to find any continuity since buying the team from Randy Lerner in 2012, firing five coaches and five lead football executives in the seven-year span.

It's unclear what impact Dorsey leaving will have on the roles of chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, assistant GM Eliot Wolf or vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith. Wolf and Highsmith were brought to Cleveland by Dorsey.

 “When I took this job, the history of this storied franchise and the passion of our fans was an integral part of my decision,” Dorsey said. “I know how critical the relationship is between a general manager and head coach and I also know how critical it is that the Browns have a strong leader in their next coach.”

Dorsey joined the Browns in December 2017 after previous stints in Green Bay and Kansas City and he immediately began overhauling a roster lacking quality and a front office with no direction. With Dorsey calling the shots, the Browns went from 0-16 in 2017 to 7-8-1 in 2018.

Dorsey made several astute moves and his decision to draft quarterback Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall in 2018 looked like a winner when the QB broke the league rookie record for touchdown passes. Then, Dorsey pulled off a blockbuster trade in March by acquiring star wide receiver Odell Beckham in a trade with the New York Giants.

The Browns were a chic pick to make the playoffs this season, but Mayfield regressed in his second year under Kitchens, whom Dorsey favored over other candidates a year ago despite his lack of head coaching experience. Cleveland was also among the league's most penalized teams and the season crashed in the final weeks with Kitchens paying the price.

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