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NFL combine notes: Chip Kelly says deal with Browns was never close


INDIANAPOLIS -- Eagles coach Chip Kelly borrowed from “Wedding Crashers” when asked about reports last month that he was close to a deal to become Browns coach.

“Erroneous,” Kelly said Thursday at the scouting combine, letting everyone know the line came from the Vince Vaughn comedy.

The official quote is: “Erroneous! Erroneous. Erroneous on both counts.” But he got his point across.

Kelly met with the Browns for seven hours Jan. 11 and multiple reports said the sides were “close” to a deal. Kelly then met with the Bills and Eagles, before appearing set to return to the University of Oregon. He later reversed course and took the Eagles job.

He reiterated Thursday his decision came down to staying with the Ducks or leaving for Philadelphia – and the Browns weren’t a finalist.

“It wasn’t an elimination or anything, I just thought Philadelphia was the best fit,” Kelly said. “I was really excited when I met Howie (Roseman, GM) and (owner) Jeff Lurie and Don (Smolenski, president) and the group of people there. It was the right fit for me and that’s what I felt.”

Kelly surprised many by hiring fired Browns coach Pat Shurmur as his offensive coordinator. Kelly ran a hurry-up, zone-read option at Oregon, while Shurmur has spent his entire pro career in the West Coast Offense.

“I didn’t know Pat before,” Kelly said. “We seemed to hit it off right away. Extremely intelligent, well thought-out, very detail-oriented. We have a lot of similar philosophies in the passing game and the running game.

“There were a lot of really qualified candidates, but it just seemed like we clicked right away when I got a chance to meet him. The fact he had been a head coach, to have a guy in the office right next door to be able to run things by. He’s been fantastic.”



The Browns’ desire to provide competition for quarterback Brandon Weeden has opened the door for speculation about which draft pick and/or veteran will be added. San Francisco’s Alex Smith, Miami’s Matt Moore and Philadelphia’s Nick Foles could all be available this offseason and their teams updated the situations.

** The 49ers want to trade Smith, who became expendable when Colin Kaepernick led San Francisco to the Super Bowl. General manager Trent Baalke would prefer to trade Smith rather than release him. Smith could stay as the backup, but if he’s on the roster April 1, his 2013 salary will be guaranteed at $8.5 million.

“We’re going to look at all options,” Baalke said. “Are we going to trade him for sure? No, that hasn’t been decided.”

Smith, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005, lost his job after missing a game following a concussion. He completed 70.2 percent of his passes in 2012 with 13 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 104.1 rating.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported it’s “highly, highly, highly unlikely” he’ll be released. He doesn’t think the trade market will be intense and said a fourth-round draft pick might be enough. The Browns are already without a second-rounder after taking receiver Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft last year.

** Moore is slated to become a free agent March 12 and a report in the Miami Herald said Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner is a fan. Moore has started 25 games in six seasons, including 12 in 2011. He is 13-12 with an 80.5 rating.

“There’s a lot of reasons why you want Matt back on the football team, Matt’s been an outstanding teammate, a good mentor for Ryan (Tannehill),” Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland said. “We have some tough decisions to make, I wish I could have (all our free agents) back.”

** Foles started six games for the Eagles as a rookie in 2011, going 1-5 with a 79.1 rating. The third-round pick out of Arizona may be expendable because the Eagles renegotiated Michael Vick’s contract and signed Dennis Dixon.

“I want to coach Nick,” Kelly said, adding they’ll always listen to offers.

“We’re not in the business of trying to get rid of our good young players,” Roseman said.



Panthers coach Ron Rivera worked under Turner in San Diego, then hired Rob Chudzinski as offensive coordinator in Carolina. Chudzinski was hired by the Browns as coach last month and picked Turner as his offensive coordinator.

“That’s going to be interesting,” Rivera said. “They’re both tremendous offensive minds. I had the fortune of being with both of them. I think Norv Turner’s one of the sharpest offensive football coaches I’ve ever been around. I know Chud’s a sharp mind, as well.

“It’s going to be interesting to see exactly what they try to do and how they want to do it. I would be surprised if they don’t score a lot of points.”

Rivera was then asked what the Browns can expect from Chudzinski, who’s scheduled to meet with the media this morning.

“If he’s anything like he was as an offensive coordinator, it’s really going to try to be slanted toward the offensive side,” Rivera said. “He wants to score points. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch them play offensive football.”



Chudzinski turned to Ray Horton as defensive coordinator, and two of Horton’s former bosses gave it the stamp of approval.

“Their defense is going to play fast,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim said. “It’s going to be aggressive. He has a great scheme. I think he would be the first to tell you he learned a lot from (Pittsburgh’s) Dick LeBeau, but Ray’s ability to put players in position (is excellent).

“I think a quality coach is able to cater to a player’s strengths, be able to hide some of their limitations but at the same time be able to get some success out of a guy where maybe some others threw him to the side, and Ray was able to do that with several of our players.”

Keim interviewed Horton for the head coaching vacancy, but former Colts offensive coordinator/interim coach Bruce Arians got the job. Horton spent two years as Arizona’s coordinator after working as an assistant with Pittsburgh from 2004-10.

“Ray Horton is a very intelligent, organized, demanding coach,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said. “I know that the Browns will be prepared defensively very well, because Ray is extremely thorough. He’s respected because he played the game and has coached the game and been successful at both.”



Colbert got to know Browns owner Jimmy Haslam during his tenure as Steelers minority owner. Colbert was asked if he shared any secrets with Haslam.

“I want some of Jimmy’s secrets, because I think he’s done pretty well in the business world,” Colbert said. “What I noticed about Jim right away was his passion for the game of football and at that time the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m sure he’s taken that same mind-set to Cleveland.

“I always thought that Jim was very knowledgeable about football, particularly the SEC and Tennessee, because he got to see those guys. He was always just really inquisitive to what we were thinking. I was inquisitive to what he was thinking also, because of his success.”



Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner will have surgery after the combine to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

Milliner was projected to be the top cornerback taken in April’s draft. The Browns hold the No. 6 pick and are desperate for a starting cornerback to pair with Joe Haden, so Milliner could be a fit.

Milliner will do every drill at the combine except for the bench press, Schefter reported. He hopes to be recovered by training camp.

Some analysts believe Milliner doesn’t possess the elite skill set or speed necessary for a top-10 pick, but he has been projected by many to be taken in the top five. Cornerbacks are coveted commodities and he was viewed as a safe pick.

Schefter reported Milliner suffered the injury during the season and played through it.



Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, a serious candidate for the Browns with the No. 6 pick, won’t work out at the combine. Schefter reported Jones will focus on his pro day March 21.

Jones will still interview with teams this week and go through extensive medical tests. He was diagnosed with spinal stenosis early in his college career, and each team must determine if it will affect the length of his career.



Vikings GM Rick Spielman had his answer ready for the inevitable question about his star receiver/returner who has been mentioned in trade rumors. “We have no intent to trade Percy Harvin,” Spielman said.

** Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray has one of the strongest arms in the draft and is projected as a middle- or late-round pick. He said he only met Haslam, a proud Tennessee alumnus and booster, once.

** Ohio State tight end Jake Stoneburner said he was scheduled to meet with the Browns on Thursday night. They’re in the market for a tight end.

** More than 800 media credentials were issued for the combine.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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