By Tom Withers, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Browns are hiring Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as their new coach, a person familiar with the decision told the Associated Press.
Stefanski agreed to accept the position Sunday, a day after Minnesota was beaten by San Francisco in the NFC playoffs, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the decision.
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, who was fired after just one season. Stefanski spent the past season sprucing up his resume running Minnesota’s offense, and the Browns didn’t pass up a second chance to nab him.
Stefanski is Cleveland’s 10th full-time coach since the franchise’s expansion rebirth in 1999, and the sixth coach hired by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam since he bought the team in 2012.
The decision means that no minority candidates were hired by NFL teams this offseason. Dallas, Carolina, Washington and the Dallas Cowboys also filled vacancies.
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 their billing under Kitchens, who was unable to instill discipline and couldn’t tamper drama 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 Setanski after a thorough 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.