CLEVELAND — The Browns’ list of coaching candidates keeps shrinking.
Two more names were scratched off on Tuesday.
Green Bay quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, who interviewed with Cleveland last week, was hired as the New York Giants offensive coordinator and Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles removed his name from consideration after recently meeting with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner.
McAdoo and Bowles are two of the six candidates known to have interviewed with the Browns, who are looking for their fourth coach in six years — and seventh since 1999 — after Rob Chudzinski was fired following a 4-12 season.
Cleveland has also met with New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who took his name out of the running, and former San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, hired on Monday by Tennessee.
The Browns have also interviewed Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and former Titans coach Mike Munchak.
It appears Cleveland intends to speak with Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase before making any final decision. The 35-year-old has emerged as the front-runner to land Cleveland’s job because he was the first candidate the Browns contacted after Chudzinski was dismissed and Haslam has a long-time relationship with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who has praised Gase.
In his first season with the Broncos, Gase has helped Manning set several NFL records with a prolific offense and he is seen as one of pro football’s bright young innovators and rising coaching stars. Contacted earlier this month, Gase told both the Browns and Minnesota Vikings that he wanted to wait until after the Broncos’ season ended before he did any interviews.
League rules prohibit teams from offering assistant coaches jobs while they are in the playoffs. The Broncos face the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship, and if Denver loses, the Browns are expected to move quickly to interview Gase.
He is represented by agent Bob Lamonte, who has a history with the Browns. Former Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur is a Lamonte client as is former general manager Tom Heckert, who was fired by the Browns last year. Heckert now works with Gase in Denver.
The Browns and Vikings are the only two teams still searching for a coach.
McAdoo was seen as a longshot to wind up in Cleveland, but a strong endorsement from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers seemed to add some validity to the Browns’ interest. However, the 36-year-old decided to join the Giants, who replaced long-time coordinator Kevin Gilbride after New York’s offense underperformed and the team missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.
Bowles interviewed with the Browns on Jan. 3. He was a secondary coach with the team under Butch Davis, and his Cleveland connection enhanced his resume. The Vikings are believed to still be interested in the 50-year-old.
The Browns are not confirming any interviews or commenting during their search.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org