The Browns have Chip Kelly's interest. Now they need his signature.
The team is expected to meet with Oregon's innovative coach again and hopes to complete a deal to make him Cleveland's sixth full-time coach since 1999. However, Kelly kept a scheduled meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles and, as of late Saturday night, hadn't had his second visit with the Browns.
Kelly and his representatives met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner for a reported seven hours in Arizona on Friday. They came close to reaching an agreement, but the sides parted company agreeing to speak again, a strong sign that Kelly was leaning toward the Browns.
Kelly, 49, also met with the Buffalo Bills.
There's a chance Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman are making a hard push at Kelly to steal him from the Browns. Banner spent 19 seasons with Philadelphia, the last 12 as president, but left the club last year and has had a falling out with Lurie, a longtime friend.
Haslam and Banner plan to hire a coach before they seek a general manager to pair with him. The Browns have also promised that their next coach will have final say and control over the club's 53-man roster.
Cleveland has also spoken with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Syracuse's Doug Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who removed himself from consideration Thursday.
A person familiar with the plans told The Associated Press that Marrone also will meet with the Eagles. Kelly wasn't listed on the statement, though reports say he would meet with them Saturday.
The Eagles previously interviewed O'Brien and Atlanta coordinators Mike Nolan (defense) and Keith Armstrong (special teams).
Panthers: Ron Rivera will return as Carolina coach next season after his team's strong finish. Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said Rivera met with owner Jerry Richardson Saturday morning and was informed that he will return for a third season. Rivera, a former star linebacker at Cal, has two years on his current contract.
Richardson fired longtime G.M. Marty Hurney after a 1-5 start and informed Rivera at the time Panthers needed to be "trending upward" the rest of the season. The Panthers went 6-4 from that point out, including four straight wins to close the season.
Bears: General manager Phil Emery is scheduled to interview former 49ers and Raiders assistant Marc Trestman for its coaching vacancy. Trestman, 56, is the coach for the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL.