Posted February 11, 2014

Ray Farmer hired as Browns’ GM; Mike Lombardi, Joe Banner out

AFC North, Cleveland Browns
Mike Lombardi (left) didn't get much time with the Browns before being pushed out in favor of Ray Farmer (right). (David Richard/AP)

Mike Lombardi (left) didn’t get much time with the Browns before being pushed out in favor of Ray Farmer (right). (David Richard/AP)

The Cleveland Browns are at it again.

Less than a month after hiring new head coach Mike Pettine, the Browns announced Tuesday that GM Mike Lombardi has been replaced by Ray Farmer and that CEO Joe Banner will step down within the next couple of months. So marks the latest surprising move from a franchise that has become arguably the NFL’s hardest to figure out.

“The purpose of these moves is to unify our team with one, unequivocal goal: Provide our fans with the winning organization they have long deserved,” team owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement.

Lombardi was hired only last January as part of the previous round of turnover within the organization. He arrived alongside Rob Chudzinski and assistant coaches Norv Turner and Ray Horton, as the Browns attempted to recover from the end of Pat Shurmur’s reign as head coach. But Cleveland finished just 4-12 this season, down from a 5-11 mark in 2012, and decided to clean house yet again.

Farmer served as assistant GM during the 2013 campaign.

Cleveland Browns 2.0 turnover
Coach (tenure) GM (tenure)
Chris Palmer (1999-00) Dwight Clark (1999-01)
Butch Davis (2001-04) Butch Davis (2002-04)
Terry Robiskie (2004) Phil Savage (2005-08)
Romeo Crennel (2005-08) George Kokinis (2009)
Eric Mangini (2009-10) Tom Heckert (2010-12)
Pat Shurmur (2011-12) Michael Lombardi (2013)
Rob Chudzinksi (2013) Ray Farmer (2014-)
Mike Pettine (2014-)

“First of all, we wanted to capitalize on the knowledge, experience and character we’re fortunate to have in Ray Farmer,” Haslam said. “Ray has a tremendous football IQ, he’s compelling, and he understands the types of players we need to acquire and develop in order to win in Cleveland. He embraces his partnership with Mike Pettine, which is critical in helping build the right team. Ray will provide excellent leadership in our front office.”

The Browns were the last team to hire a head coach this offseason, after canning Chudzinski on the league’s so-called “Black Monday” — the first day after Week 17 concludes. Potential candidates like Josh McDaniels and Adam Gase publicly withdrew their names from consideration, as speculation swirled that the unsettled front office situation was pushing them and others away from the job.

Cleveland’s forced patience there may have paid off in the long run with the Pettine hiring, though now he may have to refocus his offseason approach with Farmer taking over as GM.

The team holds the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft and has long been pegged as a possible landing spot for one of the projected top quarterbacks (Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater). The MMQB’s Peter King reported back in December, when Chudzinksi, Banner and Lombardi were all still in their positions, that the Browns “really liked” Manziel. Will Farmer’s promotion alter that outlook?

It is really anyone’s guess at this point, which is par for the course when discussing the Browns.

Farmer has a hectic offseason in front of him. Thanks to carryover cash left unspent in 2013, the Browns could have more than $45 million at their disposal under the projected 2014 salary cap. They have at least two key free agents of their own to deal with: center Alex Mack and safety T.J. Ward. (More on the Browns’ free-agency outlook here.) Finding a quarterback, running back and some receiver help for star Josh Gordon will be high priority now for Farmer, as the defensive-minded Pettine works to fix a group that fell apart down the stretch last season.

This was Lombardi’s second turn with the club. He had been a member of the front office from 1987-96, with several seasons working alongside then-Cleveland head coach Bill Belichick. This stay lasted little more than a year.

“We’re also grateful for Mike Lombardi’s efforts and commitment since rejoining our organization,” Haslam said. “He is an experienced and creative NFL executive with a unique ability to see the big picture. He has tremendous instincts and I know he’ll be a valuable addition to any NFL organization.

“We simply wanted to give Ray this opportunity that he’s earned. We wanted to move forward under his leadership and capabilities.”

From the archives: The agony of being a Browns fan

44 comments
MikeKelliher
MikeKelliher

the Brownie motto: subtraction through addition... Cleveland truly is the mistake by the lake 


bcrd500
bcrd500

Banner and Lombardi have both been associated with winning programs before landing with Cleveland but are fired and replaced by Farmer, who has been associated with Atlanta and Kansas City while both teams were suffering runs of bad seasons. Does Farmer have something on the Cleveland owner?

NebojsaTodorovic
NebojsaTodorovic

Let's recap...  They miss out on coaches they wanted due to front office inconsistencies.  They settle for whomever will convince them he wants the job for a reason other than improving his resume, then they go ahead and blow up the front office which means the new people will not necessarily be all in on the new coach that they didn't select.


Something tells me the reason we haven't heard much from the IRS concerning the Flying J investigation is because they are finding so many things messed up they can't wrap their arms around all of the illegalities.

alhmiel1
alhmiel1

Now fire the bum inept Kyle Shanahan who was fired and run out of Washington and hated by all players and assistant coaches. Kyle got a job because Elf Shanahan was his father.

djp9
djp9

Maybe this is what you get when the guy who owns the franchise is being investigated for fraud. He is helping fleece the good people of Cleveland and all Brown's fans just like his sales department was allowed to milk the trucking companies out of their money.

Lerner to Haslam to dumpster, and downhill it flows. I feel bad for all you Cleveland Brown's fans.

ianlinross
ianlinross

I guess we can all return to listening to Lombardi's wit and wisdom on the NFL Network. 

Hey Mike, how you run an already downtrodden franchise into complete and utter disarray? 

Cool
Cool

Great thinking.. have your GM and CEO hire a new coach, and then fire them.  

monex5
monex5

Wait, so the Coach was hired before the GM? So if the coach is bad, will the GM want to bring in his own coach?

The_truth_hurts
The_truth_hurts

What a sad excuse of a sports franchise. The world would be a better place if Cleveland was wiped off the map completely. The place is a cesspool.

Whatever
Whatever

If I'm a free agent, Cleveland will need to increase my contract 50% at minimum over what a competing team offers. That's compensation for not winning during my contract term.

kennybuckeye
kennybuckeye

When Haslam bought the team the ownership change brought some excitement to us LONG suffering Browns fans.  When he hired the hack, Lombardi, it was like a pin in a balloon.  Now the question becomes, is Haslam an owner who wants to win and made one really dumb mistake or is he in over his head.  One thing for sure, if he finds a way to revive our team, he will be a hero forever.  WAY too soon to tell, but getting rid of the useless Lombardi is one small step for the Browns and one giant leap in a better direction.

tonybot3
tonybot3

Haslam got hoodwinked into these guys by the NFL, in the first place....  He's just righting ship, now.  Good move... GREAT move.

thebigdawg3
thebigdawg3

Wow, the new owner is as big of a moron as the previous owner.  Sure would suck to be a Browns fan.  

alhmiel1
alhmiel1

Next move Cleveland should do is fire the worthless hated ineffective undeserving Kyle Shanhan.  Shanahan just got run out of Washington in disgrace and Lombardi stupidly hires a wimp Kyle no one else wanted. 

alhmiel1
alhmiel1

Mike Lombardi is maybe the most worthless clueless moron in the NFL.  Hiring this boob Lombardi was a joke. Lombardi is a rear end kissing knee crawling wimp who is clueless.

RayIsBipolar
RayIsBipolar

This is a quick turnaround but Haslam was smart enough to realize that Lombardi was nothing more than a  used car salesman that has no business running a team but on the flip side, Haslam was dumb enough to fall for his presentation to hire him to begin with. Lombardi is more crooked than a barrel of snakes.


If the Browns are ever to stop being the Browns then this was the best move for them. I know this kind of front office chaos is why they are the Browns but Lombardi is not the guy to fix that. George Zimmer would guarantee that.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

The Cleveland Browns motto: "We're committed to 4-12 seasons. Our fans deserve it, and we will do everything we can to maintain it. We promise, no 8-8 years. 'Playoffs' is a dirty word. If this was soccer, we'd be relegated. And that's how we like it. "

Bucky182
Bucky182

Haslam bought the team and said he wanted stability and consistency like he was a part of with the Steelers. Thus far Haslam has been nothing but the anti-Steeler. Perhaps the problems start with him. I really feel for a guy like Joe Thomas. He deserves better.

tonybot3
tonybot3

@djp9 Feel our 2015 Superbowl rings, instead, mmk?

dwb_alpha
dwb_alpha

@monex5 That's how screwed up Cleveland is.  Maybe the Browns will surprise us again and let the new GM fire the new head coach before he's even coached a single game.

nfinitwordsfoto
nfinitwordsfoto

@The_truth_hurts   Do you think anyone's going to take you seriously when you're advocating for the death of hundreds of thousands of people?  The only thing you're an expert on is knowing what a cesspool looks like, I imagine you're living in one. 

One final word of advice, don't listen to Ozzy when he says that "suicide is no solution", it really is.  Please look into it. 

nfinitwordsfoto
nfinitwordsfoto

@kennybuckeye   He's also the guy that hired him in the first place.  I believe that Browns fans are going to be suffering for a lot longer with this guy, Haslem as the owner.  

I used to make fun of the Browns but now it's just getting old.  They need a new owner and I'd like to see the Browns have at least a few seasons of success.  Just to give the fans a little bit of somethin', somethin'. 

Tim2
Tim2

@thebigdawg3  sadly, yes, it does. I only have about 40 year left before I die and my dream of seeing the Browns make the playoffs is starting to fade.

My_Opinion15
My_Opinion15

@alhmiel1  Shows what moron you are when it comes to football. Lombardi had nothing to do with the hiring of Shanahan. Stick the mesage board on Justin Bieber dot com.

WilliamCross
WilliamCross

Haha! The guy you don't know got fired, you're just being a jerk.

nfinitwordsfoto
nfinitwordsfoto

@tonybot3 @djp9   Unless they're selling Superbowl rings now at Jared, I don't think Browns fans will be feeling anything other than pissed off at being told "just wait til next year" for the 60th time. 

davedsone1
davedsone1

@tonybot3 @djp9  you must be feeling those in your imagination.  4-12.  That is a REAL feeling you should have.  Traded one of your better players.  THAT is a real feeling you should have.  SB Ring?  You can't show ONE THING that makes anyone think this team is getting better.  Complete turnover year over year after the new owner says he wants to be like the Steelers pretty much insures you aren't going to the SB as contestants.  

BosephHeyden
BosephHeyden

@tonybot3 It seems like you guys have been feeling those rings for a while now, on account of them being imaginary.

RayIsBipolar
RayIsBipolar

@Tim2 @thebigdawg3  Sorry Tim, Browns fans live forever. Its your punishment for a previous life. You must have done something terrible.

RayIsBipolar
RayIsBipolar

@WilliamCross  Funny you say that because  I have met the guy several times when I was attending Sonoma St playing baseball. We used to work security during Raiders games when that slug was around. The guy is a creep.