Forbes magazine reported this weekend that the Cleveland Browns are being sold for $920 million dollars. Current owner Randy Lerner is selling the team to a group headed by James Haslam, a current minority owner in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Forbes had placed a value of $977 million on the Browns organization last summer and Lerner reportedly had been asking between $1 to 1.1 billion for the Browns. The question now remains, how quickly will the Browns make changes?
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer is reporting that the deal could be approved by the NFL as early as late August or early September. Former Philadelphia Eagles president, Joe Banner is said to be part of the investment group involved in the purchase of the Browns. Banner’s involvement immediately begs the question regarding Mike Holmgren’s future with the Browns organization.
Under Holmgren’s guidance, the Browns have won just 28% of their games, posting a 9-23 overall record. In his first season, Holmgren retained head coach Eric Mangini and really missed on QB Colt McCoy, drafting yet another quarterback this season. Holmgren is under contract with the Browns through 2014 and told reporters that he realizes that he should be considered to be on the hot seat given his record with the Browns, adding he believes the organization is close.
“I believe we’re close. My last press conference I said I’d be disappointed if we didn’t take a pretty good jump this year and I still feel that way. I believe we’re a better football team. I see it coming,” Holmgren told reporters. It will be an uphill climb for the Browns this season while they figure to start a rookie quarterback this year.
Speculation leads you to believe that Holmgren’s time in Cleveland is likely coming to an end. The only question remaining will be whether his dismissal comes this year or at the end of this season.
Several current members of the Browns organization- general manager Tom Heckert, head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress, all have ties to Banner from days in Philadelphia. A change in the coaching staff would likely not happen until after the 2012 season. To change head coaches at this point would be suicide.
The addition of Banner coming to Cleveland has to have the fans energized. He is a solid football administrator and helped to assemble a successful franchise during his time in Philadelphia. Mike Holmgren, in the short term, has proven to be a better head coach than an administrator.
The Browns were just one of two NFL franchises which posted losses last season with Detroit being the other.