There are going to be a lot of coaching changes in the NFL this summer. The exact number will become clearer when we get a better understanding of who will and who won’t make the postseason, but describing it as a lot isn’t overstating things.
One of the teams that will undoubtedly be looking for a new coach next year is the Cleveland Browns. As it stands, the Browns are 5-8 with three games to go. Those three games are against the Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. Odds are, they’ll lose all three. (Although they have won five of their last eight, so who knows.)
Presuming they do lose those games, though, current general manager Tom Heckert would almost certainly be shown the door. And if that happens, the obvious question becomes: who replaces him?
Well, according to the Boston Globe, NFL analyst Michael Lombardi could potentially become the next Browns GM. If Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner go that route, making Nick Saban the team’s next head coach could suddenly become a huge priority.
Per the report:
There’s also the person Lombardi could deliver as head coach: Alabama’s Nick Saban.
According to the NFL sources, Saban has let it be known that if he returns to the NFL — where he flopped, going 15-17 with the Dolphins from 2005-06 — it would likely be with Lombardi playing Pioli to his Belichick.
One of Saban’s many missteps in Miami — the first being that he accepted a job he really didn’t want — was hiring a general manager in Randy Mueller who did not know the Belichick personnel system. Mueller, who was a good personnel man when running his own ship with the Saints, had to learn Saban’s system on the fly, and it never really clicked.
Saban could well be looking for his next/final NFL opportunity if he wins his fourth national championship next month in the BCS title game against Notre Dame. If the Browns (Saban is from northern West Virginia, played for and coached at Kent State, and was a Browns assistant under Belichick) and Lombardi are dangled, he may indeed take the plunge again.
Saban and Lombardi worked together in the 1990s with Saban serving as a Browns coordinator and Lombardi being Director of Player Personnel.
For what it’s worth, in an interview with ESPN 97.3 The Zone last week, Saban’s wife said that “this is it” as far her husband’s jobs go. That he wanted to remain with Alabama until retirement.
Make of that what you will.