The Cleveland Browns are done with their head coaching search, and they've chosen to bring back a familiar face from the past.
UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 11 at 9:23 p.m. ET by Ethan Grant
According to Cleveland Plain Dealer insider and Browns reporter Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns are reportedly committed to Chudzinski as the lead man—to the tune of a lengthy contract. Here's her report on Twitter:
#Browns new head coach Rob Chudzinski's deal is believed to be 5 years, $3 million-something a year range.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) January 11, 2013
By comparison, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was the NFL's highest paid coach in 2012, with an annual salary of $7.5 million. This move isn't over the top in terms of dollars, but five years is a strong commitment to the first-time head coach.
The Browns believe he is the right man for the job—and prove it with his contract.
---End of update---
According to ESPN insider Chris Mortensen, the Browns struck a deal with Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski on Thursday night, a day after the two sides had a scheduled interview for the opening.
Rob Chudzinksi is a done deal. He is the Browns new head coach. Confirmed.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 11, 2013
Chudzinski has served in the NFL under Ron Rivera for the past two seasons, as he's helped transform Carolina's offense from one of the worst in the NFL to one of the more creative.
QB Cam Newton was an unorthodox pro prospect coming into the league, but Chudzinski got the most out of his abilities as a rookie, fooling defenses with his run-heavy, read-option schemes en route to finishing fifth in total offense in 2011. The team digressed some in 2012, finishing 12th in total offense, but it did crack the top 10 in rushing yards per game at No. 9.
Source says Chudzinski will likely bring Norv Turner as part of #Browns coaching staff— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) January 11, 2013
The Ohio native and served as tight ends coach of the Browns in 2004, and helped the team to a 10-win season in 2007—his first year as the offensive coordinator.
He was fired alongside Romeo Crennel after the 2008 season, heading to San Diego before stopping in Carolina. He'll now get the chance to revive his home state's football team in one of the NFL's toughest divisions—the AFC North.
We'll see if the 44-year-old Chudzinski is up for the challenge. This position hasn't been friendly to other coaches in the past, and the pressure to win now is always one of the biggest factors for Cleveland faithful.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.