Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens and Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski are finalists for the Browns’ head-coaching job, according to an NFL Network report Tuesday.
It is unknown if there are other finalists, per the report. According to multiple reports, Stefanski is heading back to Cleveland on Tuesday for a second interview, after first meeting with the team last week. NFL Network adds Kitchens remains in the building and is getting “strong consideration.”
Cleveland.com reported Tuesday that Kitchens has “a good chance” of being named the team’s next head coach. The report added that several assistant coaches already have been asked to stay aboard, a sign that the Browns could stay inside the organization for the hire.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the Browns have asked Stefanski about what his staff would look like in Cleveland. That report also indicated a return to the Vikings is still on the table for Stefanski, whose contract expired after the regular season.
Last year, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer blocked Stefanski from interviewing to become offensive coordinator of the New York Giants. The Giants hired then-Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as head coach. Because Stefanski was under contract and the Vikings’ offensive coordinator position was vacant, he was not cleared to interview with Shurmur.
Stefanski was promoted to offensive coordinator in December, when Zimmer fired John DeFilippo.
Kitchens, 44, interviewed with the Browns on Monday, and interim head coach Gregg Williams also interviewed for the job last week. It’s unclear if Williams remains in the running for the job.
Last week, multiple outlets reported that the Browns blocked several NFL teams from interviewing Kitchens — who remains under contract — for their offensive coordinator positions so Cleveland could keep him, either as head coach or offensive coordinator.
Kitchens was promoted from Cleveland’s running backs coach to offensive coordinator — his first time holding a coordinator position — in Week 9 of the regular season, and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived after the change. In eight games with Kitchens as OC, Mayfield threw for 2,254 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions and was sacked just five times.
—Field Level Media