The Cleveland Browns officially named Freddie Kitchens as the team’s new head coach on Saturday.
Kitchens, 44, becomes the 17th full-time head coach in franchise history. He replaces Hue Jackson, who was fired in October after compiling a 3-36-1 record in two-plus seasons.
Kitchens was featured in a short video clip on Twitter announcing the deal.
After parting ways with Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley in October, the Browns promoted Kitchens from running backs coach to offensive coordinator and named defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as interim head coach. Williams has been relieved of his duties and is no longer with the team.
His departure is one of several from the Browns’ previous coaching staff. Per multiple reports, Cleveland released several other coaches, including special teams coordinator Amos Jones, position coaches Ken Zampese (QBs), Bob Wylie (OL), Blake Williams (LBs) and Greg Seamon (TEs), and special teams assistant Josh Cribbs, a former Pro Bowl player for the Browns.
Cleveland also is working to hire former Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The Browns also will have a different organizational structure, according to multiple reports. Kitchens will report to general manager John Dorsey rather than owner Jimmy Haslam, a departure from the structure for previous coaches.
The team’s confidence in Kitchens was boosted by the play of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield under his watch. In eight games with Kitchens as OC, Mayfield threw for 2,254 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions and was sacked just five times.
A quarterback at Alabama from 1993-97, Kitchens coached in the college ranks from 1999-2005 as an assistant at Glenville State, LSU, North Texas and Mississippi State.
He broke into the NFL as tight ends coach with the Dallas Cowboys in 2006, and held the same role with the Arizona Cardinals from 2007-12. He served as Arizona’s quarterbacks coach from 2013-16 and as the Cardinals’ running backs coach in 2017.
Report: Broncos eye Brown
The Denver Broncos are expected to be one of several teams interested in trading for Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown this offseason, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Saturday.
The report adds that there have been no moves toward reconciliation with the team on Brown’s part, and the Steelers may actively seek a trade rather than merely listening to offers. Per Rapoport, several general managers around the league believe Pittsburgh should be able to get a second-round pick and perhaps a bit more in return, though a first-rounder appears unlikely.
The Steelers’ leverage is likely diminished by Brown’s contract -- he is owed about $39 million over the next three years -- and the team’s openness about considering move on.
Team president Art Rooney II said in an interview Thursday with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that it’s “hard to envision” Brown back with the team next year, after the wideout skipped practices and meetings during Week 17 and has been out of communication with the team since the season ended. Rooney added he believes the recent issue is part of a broader problem with Brown that must be addressed.
“We’ll look at all the options,” Rooney said “We’re not going to release him, that’s not on the table. But I will say all other options are on the table. Whether the situation can be reconciled and have him back on the team next year, we’re a long way away from thinking that can happen. We’re not closing the door on anything at this point.”
The Broncos are projected to have around $37 million in cap space this offseason, a number that could grow with the release of a few veterans.
They traded away wideout Demaryius Thomas during the 2018 season, both because he was not in their long-term plans and to open up snaps for rookie receivers Courtland Sutton and Dae’Sean Hamilton. Emmanuel Sanders -- a former teammate of Brown’s in Pittsburgh -- tore his Achilles in practice late in the season and will turn 32 in March.
Brown, who turns 31 in July, is coming off his sixth straight Pro Bowl appearance after totaling 104 catches for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was named first-team All-Pro four years in a row from 2014 to 2017.
Other teams that could be interested, per Rapoport, and have plenty of cap space are the Indianapolis Colts (projected $122 million) New York Jets ($98 million) and San Francisco 49ers ($46 million).
Brown can’t be dealt until the 2019 NFL calendar officially begins on March 13. The S