The team is moving forward with its coaching search and will conduct a second interview with Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine on Tuesday night, a person familiar with the Browns' plans told the Associated Press.
Pettine interviewed owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner last week and will have his second meeting on Tuesday night in Mobile, Ala., said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting during its search. Pettine is at the Senior Bowl in Mobile with other members of Buffalo's staff.
Pettine just completed his first year with the Bills and was responsible for the defense's improvement. Though the Bills still struggled against the run, they finished second in the NFL with a franchise-record 57 sacks. Pettine had his first interview with the Browns on Jan. 16.
Earlier, Gase, Denver's highly regarded offensive coordinator, called Haslam and informed him he was withdrawing his name and would not interview after the Super Bowl.
The 35-year-old Gase, who will lead the Broncos' high-powered offense against Seattle, was the first candidate contacted by the Browns. Gase declined an initial interview request because he wanted to concentrate on the playoffs, and the Browns, would have had to wait until after Feb. 2 to speak with him.
Gase was believed to be the Browns' top target in their quest to replace Rob Chudzinski, fired on Dec. 29 after one season in Cleveland.
Last week, Haslam said the team is "prepared to wait as long as necessary" to hire a coach, and now the Browns will move ahead without Gase, who enjoys his role with the Broncos and may not be ready for a head coaching gig.
The Browns are the only team without a head coach and have interviewed at least eight known candidates — the list could grow — to become their seventh full-time coach since 1999.
Besides Pettine, the team has set up a second interview with Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
The 43-year-old Quinn, who has presided over the NFL's top-rated defense this season, met with the Browns on Jan. 1 and reportedly impressed Haslam and Banner.
Per NFL rules, the Browns can conduct a second interview with Quinn by Jan. 26, but are not permitted to offer him a job until after the Seahawks' season is over.
Gase drew the Browns' attention and soared up their wish list of candidates after helping quarterback Peyton Manning shatter several league records this season. Also, Haslam received a glowing recommendation on Gase from Manning, who has a long-standing relationship with the Haslam family because of their Tennessee ties.
Gase, too, fit the outline — young, offensive-minded — of the type of coach Banner wanted to bring to the Browns, who went 4-12 under Chudzinski and have lost at least 11 games in each of the past six seasons.
Gase is the second high-profile coach to remove his name from consideration. New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels also told the Browns he was not interested in pursuing their opening.
The Browns have also interviewed former Tennessee coach Mike Munchak and Dallas special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, who could both be brought back for second meetings.
Fox Sports reported the team will meet with Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said he has been contacted by the Browns about members of his staff. Cleveland may want to interview defensive line coach Jim Tomsula or offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
Harbaugh would not confirm which coaches Cleveland asked about and was reluctant to offer much information.
"To go into any further detail, I don't think helps our situation, their situation," he said. "Their search is their search."
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