The arranged meeting Saturday between the Eagles and Chip Kelly lasted longer than anticipated, possibly signaling that the Eagles and the University of Oregon football coach have more of a mutual interest than initially reported.
Kelly and the Eagles met for several hours Saturday in Phoenix, a source told CSNPhilly.com's Reuben Frank. The meeting started in the early afternoon and didn't end until around9:30 p.m. (after midnight in the East). It now seems clear that the Eagles are extremely interested in Kelly and that Kelly has some options to mull.
As of very early Sunday morning, there was no deal between Kelly and either team. The Eagles still planned to meet later Sunday with Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and in Denver with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the source said. That could change, of course, if Kelly and the Eagles first come to an agreement.
Things changed drastically in a 24-hour span to suddenly make the Eagles look like the front-runners to land Kelly, the most coveted coach from the college ranks.
Kelly had already met with the Browns and Bills in Phoenix and had reportedly been offered a deal by Cleveland on Friday night before the Eagles had even arrived in the area. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman didnt fly out to Arizona until Saturday morning.
Before the interview, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Kelly would sign with the Browns after wrapping up a courtesy interview with the Eagles. But something apparently changed during the hours-long meeting between Kelly and the Eagles.
By around 10 p.m. Saturday night -- 7 p.m. in Phoenix and well past lunch time -- reports surfaced that Kelly and Eagles brass were still engaged in the interview and that the Browns had moved onto talking with Syracuse coach Doug Marrone.
The Eagles are not commenting on their dealings with Kelly. On Friday, they announced their intentions to interview several candidates but withheld Kellys name despite several reports that linked them together.
It has become obvious that what once seemed like mild interest on the Eagles part -- or doubt that they were seriously in the mix -- was more serious and mutual than it initially appeared.
If the Eagles sign Kelly, itll be considered a major Lurie victory over his estranged business partner, Browns CEO Joe Banner, a childhood friend of Luries who had been with the franchise since 1994 and then left just before the start of the 2012 season.
Banner quickly found his next venture with the Browns, who were recently purchased by Jimmy Haslam. In Philadelphia, Banner groomed Roseman from a salary cap specialist into a general manager, and theyre very like-minded as far as personnel moves and franchise philosophy, so its no surprise theyre both chasing the same head coaches. The Eagles also planned to interview Marrone in Phoenix, according to a source, before heading to Denver for an arranged interview Sunday with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
E-mail Geoff Mosher at firstname.lastname@example.org