By SCOTT PETRAK
Browns owner Randy Lerner got his man in coach Eric Mangini, but is only halfway done with his offseason to-do list.
Lerner interviewed Baltimore pro personnel director George Kokinis on Sunday as he tries to fill the vacant general managerâ€™s job that he determined was less important and pressing than the coach.
Even if Kokinis wows Lerner and decides he wants the job, he wonâ€™t be able to leave the Ravens until their playoff run is done.
The Browns have also expressed late interest in Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and former Texans general manager Charlie Casserly. Former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist and Colts vice president of football operations Chris Polian are other possibilities after Eagles GM Tom Heckert and Falcons president Rich McKay pulled out of consideration following the hiring of Mangini.
No matter which personnel guru gets the job, he, in conjunction with Mangini, will have some important decisions to make in the next couple of months. These are at the top of the list.
Is one better than two?
Mangini said Thursday he was just getting started in his evaluation of the 53-man roster. When he finds the time, he will spend most of it looking at the quarterback situation.
Lerner said late in the year he thought a quarterback needed to be chosen and supported, ending the uncertainty thatâ€™s dominated Berea for much of the last decade. Lerner seems to favor Brady Quinn and may have expressed that to Mangini.
But itâ€™s hard to believe Mangini wouldâ€™ve taken the job with a quarterback dictated to him. So heâ€™ll watch film, talk to Quinn and Derek Anderson and lay out a plan.
The choices: Try to trade Anderson, preferably before heâ€™s due a $5 million bonus at the start of free agency.
Keep them both and hold an open competition through offseason workouts and possibly into training camp.
Keep them both, but quickly name a starter and commit to him.
Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. said he and Lerner have a good relationship, so the firing of general manager Phil Savage could make it easier for him to stay.
Then again, thatâ€™s assuming Winslow doesnâ€™t threaten to hold out in an attempt to garner a contract extension with two years remaining on his deal. Winslow wouldâ€™ve had more bargaining power if he hadnâ€™t dropped off to 43 catches, 428 yards and three touchdowns while missing six games.
The serious knee injury suffered by Steve Heiden late in the season makes Winslow more valuable, but he proved this year heâ€™s not indispensable.
If agent Drew Rosenhaus makes an incredulous demand â€“ as heâ€™s been known to do â€” Mangini may decide itâ€™s best to deal Winslow for a fourth-round draft pick.
Bring Braylon back?
Receiver Braylon Edwards is entering the last year of his rookie contract and swore at the end of the season that he wanted to stay in Cleveland and help turn around the franchiseâ€™s fortunes.
Edwardsâ€™ leverage for a huge contract extension disappeared in an awful season that featured at least 18 drops, but heâ€™s still attractive as a gifted wideout just one year removed from a franchise-record 16 touchdowns. Heâ€™s the most talented guy on the offense and it wouldnâ€™t be a surprise if he has a huge year on his way to free agency.
But at his essence, Edwards is a me-first guy who may not fit with Manginiâ€™s selfless style. If Edwards balks at the new rules or philosophy, he could be shipped out of town, perhaps for a second-rounder.
Running on empty?
Jamal Lewis was a big fan of Savage, an old friend from Baltimore. Lewis wasnâ€™t a big fan of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, whoâ€™s also on his way out. This may be a wash in Lewisâ€™ mind, and heâ€™s got two years left on a deal signed in March.
Lewis barely made it to 1,000 yards and looked slower than a year earlier. The Jerome Harrison lovers â€“ Savage among them â€“ would say Lewis and Harrison could form a respectable 1-2 punch and that the Browns have bigger needs to address.
However, Mangini likes to run and might decide he needs a dominant back. It doesnâ€™t look like Lewis can be that guy anymore, so another running back could be brought in â€” to at least challenge for the starting job.
The other side
The big names fall on the offensive side of the ball, but there are also significant decisions to make on defense.
Safety Sean Jones, inside linebacker Andra Davis and outside linebacker Willie McGinest are starters who are eligible for free agency.
McGinest and Mangini have a history and McGinest was productive in the 3-4 scheme this season, but he seems to be leaning toward retirement. Davis had fallen out of favor in the old regime, but fits in the 3-4 and is a good locker room presence.
Jones isnâ€™t in the same class as AFC North counterparts Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, but few are. Jones is a legitimate starter in the league and presents one of the first big decisions for the new regime, because he wonâ€™t last long on the open market.
Defensive lineman Shaun Smith is under contract, but talks too much and threw a punch at Quinn. Mangini may make an example of him by cutting him.
Petrak may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-329-7136.
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