Pats DC, Eagles OC likely first up in coach search

Cleveland Browns officials, who commenced their search for a new general manager by meeting Monday with Baltimore personnel director Phil Savage and Jacksonville pro personnel director Charles Bailey, will now turn at least part of their attention to the head coach position.

The Browns on Tuesday sought, and were granted, permission to interview New England Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, ESPN.com has learned. Several league sources, and agent Joe Linta, who represents Crennel, confirmed the contact. Crennel will interview later this week in Foxboro.

It is also believed that the Browns will meet with Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress, possibly as early as Tuesday, for the head coaching job. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is also thought to be a candidate for the position, and the Browns will likely consider interim coach Terry Robiskie, as well.

Because of NFL anti-tampering rules, the Browns must meet this week with Crennell and Childress, whose teams earned first-round playoff byes, or wait until the seasons of their respective clubs are concluded.

Crennel, 57, interviewed for head coaching jobs after each of the last two seasons and is regarded as more than ready to be a head coach. But with the Patriots in the playoffs in 2003, and some owners unwilling to wait until after the Super Bowl, he was passed over for head coach spots.

The most likely scenario remains that the Browns will hire a general manager first, granting him input into the coaching search, but that could change. Cleveland officials are keeping a close watch on developments with some incumbent head coaches, particularly Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher, to see if their situations change. It is not likely, though, that Fisher will be available.

In fact, Titans owner Bud Adams has already blocked the Browns from meeting with his general manager, Floyd Reese, about their GM opening.

As first reported Monday evening by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Browns officials huddled with Savage for about four hours Monday. One of the game's best talent evaluators, Savage has been a candidate for general manager positions in the past but seems more eager now to assume such a role. Officials then met Monday night with Bailey, Mortensen said, adding that they continue to seek more candidates.

By league rule, the Browns cannot pursue Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome, whose Hall of Fame career in Cleveland and administrative success with the Ravens would have made him a favorite for the job. In addition, the Browns have been denied permission to interview Pittsburgh director of football operations Kevin Colbert, and Atlanta assistant general manager Tim Ruskell opted not to interview for the job.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.