With fewer than two weeks remaining before the NFL Combine, the Cleveland Browns front office has undergone a massive and sudden change.
Michael Lombardi is out as Browns GM and Joe Banner stepping down as CEO.
Ray Farmer has been promoted to General Manager.
At an 11:30 a.m. news conference, owner Jimmy Haslam told reporters that the team's top three--head coach Mike Pettine, new GM Farmer and team president Alec Scheiner--will report to him directly.
The team will not have a CEO going forward.
He says the conversation about reorganization started weeks earlier with Banner, who he credited with doing "a great job." But ultimately, they "mutually agreed" it was best for the organization to "streamline" the operation.
Haslam says he did not promise Farmer the GM job when he turned down the same position with the Miami Dolphins. Farmer reiterated the same, saying the Dolphins job wasn't for him.
When asked by NewsChannel5's Ron Regan, Haslam declined to speak about the FBI probe of Pilot Flying J.
FULL NEWS RELEASE:
Browns Restructure Front Office, Promote Ray Farmer to GM
BEREA, Ohio – The Cleveland Browns on Tuesday promoted Ray Farmer to General Manager and announced that Joe Banner will be stepping down in the next two months as he transitions out of his role as CEO.
Farmer will immediately take the over the team’s football operations and lead the Browns during free agency and the draft.
Additionally, the team announced that General Manager Michael Lombardi is departing the organization. President Alec Scheiner will continue in charge of the organization’s business operations. Owner Jimmy Haslam made the announcement.
Haslam released the following statement:
“First of all, we wanted to capitalize on the knowledge, experience and character we’re fortunate to have in Ray Farmer. 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.
“We appreciate Joe’s contributions to the Cleveland Browns, especially in helping us as new owners. He was committed to creating a successful organization and bringing in talented individuals. We thank him for his work and dedication. We wish him and his family the best.
“Alec will continue in his role as President of this team. I think he’s one of the most intelligent and innovative young executives in the NFL.
“We’re also grateful for Mike Lombardi’s efforts and commitment since rejoining our organization. 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.
“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.”
Statement from Joe Banner:
"It is bittersweet leaving the Browns organization. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Jimmy Haslam and helping him set the infrastructure for this franchise. I am proud of the talented individuals we brought in to help lead this team and feel that the Cleveland Browns are in good hands moving forward.”