CLEVELAND — The Super Bowl is set. The Browns’ coaching search remains incomplete.
The quest to replace Rob Chudzinski enters its fourth week.
Cleveland’s plans to interview Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase have been further delayed after the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl with a 26-16 win over New England in Sunday’s AFC championship game.
The 35-year-old Gase is high on the Browns’ list of candidates to become the club’s seventh coach since 1999, and the team must now wait until after Denver’s Feb. 2 matchup against Seattle before they can meet with him.
It’s possible the Browns will move on without Gase.
He was the first candidate the Browns asked permission to speak with after firing Chudzinski in the hours following a Dec. 29 loss at Pittsburgh.
Gase, though, declined Cleveland’s offer for an interview so he could focus on the Broncos’ playoff run and there have been reports he’s content working with Peyton Manning and would like to spend at least one more season on Denver’s staff.
While the Browns decide what move to make with Gase, they can conduct a second interview with Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
The 43-year-old was the first candidate interviewed by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner, who have met with at least eight known candidates but not offered anyone the job. Quinn has directed the NFL’s top defense this season and he reportedly impressed the Browns during his initial interview on Jan. 1.
Per NFL rules, if the Browns want to meet again with Quinn, they must do so before Jan. 26 and Seattle would have to grant Cleveland permission.
Also, league rules prohibit teams from finalizing deals with assistant coaches still in the postseason. So even if the Browns meet again with Quinn, the club can’t discuss a contract until after the Super Bowl.
The delays have further damaged the perception that the Browns didn’t have a strong plan in place when they fired Chudzinski, who went 4-12 in his one season. Last week, Haslam wrote a letter to Cleveland fans explaining the reasons for the club’s “methodical” approach in finding a new coach.
The Browns may also conduct a second interview with Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. He met with Haslam and Banner on Thursday and the 47-year-old could be helped by the tie-ups with Gase and Quinn. Pettine is coming off his first season with the Bills after four seasons as defensive coordinator for the New York Jets.
Dallas special teams coach Rich Bisaccia met with the Browns on Saturday. He interviewed with Washington before the Redskins hired Jay Gruden.
It’s possible other names could surface this week.
And beyond a head coach, the Browns need to replace their coordinators after Ray Horton took the defensive job with Tennessee and Norv Turner went to Minnesota.
The team is not commenting on the coaching search or confirming any interviews as it looks for a fourth coach in six years.