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story.lead_photo.caption Kevin Stefanski

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns will hire Vikings' offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski to be its new coach, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Stefanski agreed to accept the position a day after Minnesota was beaten 27-10 by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the sides have yet to finalize a contract. An official announcement is expected today.

The 37-year-old Stefanski nearly became Cleveland's coach a year ago but finished as a runner-up when the Browns selected Freddie Kitchens, a surprise hire who was fired after a disappointing, drama-filled 6-10 season. Stefanski spent this past season bolstering his varied resume running Minnesota's offense, and the Browns made sure they didn't let him get away again.

Stefanski, who had been with the Vikings since 2006, is Cleveland's 10th full-time coach since the franchise's expansion rebirth in 1999. He is the sixth coach hired by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam since he bought the team in 2012.

Stefanski will inherit a roster that includes plenty of offensive talent with quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, and running back Nick Chubb. But the Browns didn't live up to overblown preseason expectations under Kitchens, who was unable to instill discipline and couldn't tamper nearly endless distractions around the club.

Stefanski's life has been immersed in sports. His father, Ed, is a longtime NBA executive who currently works as an adviser for the Detroit Pistons.

The Browns chose Stefanski after a detailed two-week search during which they interviewed eight known candidates. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh were believed to be the other finalists.

Stefanski went head to head with Saleh in Saturday's game, but the 49ers' defensive dominance didn't seem to sway Haslam and his search committee, which was led by chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta.

A year ago, DePodesta recommended Stefanski for the Browns' opening but was overruled by Haslam and then-General Manager John Dorsey, who was recently fired. Stefanski was the only candidate to be interviewed by the Browns for the second consecutive year. He will become the 18th full-time coach in franchise history.

Stefanski worked with Minnesota's running backs, tight ends and quarterbacks under three head coaches. This will be his first time as a head coach at any level. Quarterback Kirk Cousins developed with Stefanski and that was appealing to the Browns; Mayfield struggled in his second season after breaking the league's rookie record for touchdown passes in 2018.

Now that they have their coach, the Browns will look to pair him with a new general manager after cutting ties with Dorsey on Dec. 31 after two seasons. Dorsey, who rebuilt Cleveland's roster, left after refusing to accept a reduced role offered by Haslam.

Stefanski was a defensive back for Penn, a team captain in 2004 and won three Ivy League championships during his time with the Quakers.

Sports on 01/13/2020

Print Headline: Browns don't pass on Stefanski again

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