Browns CEO, GM out in suprising front-office change

| Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, 8:39 p.m.

BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns fired their coach after one season. Now, they're sweeping out their front office.

Owner Jimmy Haslam announced Tuesday that CEO Joe Banner will step down in the next two months and general manager Michael Lombardi is leaving the team.

“Mike and Joe have left us in good position in terms of free agency and cap space as well as this year's draft, where we have 10 overall picks and three of the first 35,” Haslam said at a news conference.

It's yet another stunning development for a franchise that has undergone almost constant change in the past 15 years.

Haslam said assistant GM Ray Farmer, who was pursued by Miami to be the Dolphins' GM this winter, has been promoted and immediately will take over the team's football operations and lead the Browns during free agency and the draft.

Cleveland has two first-round picks in May's draft and is well under the salary cap to spend on free agents.

Haslam added that president Alec Scheiner will keep his current role.

“Alec Scheiner will run our business side and remain as president, Mike Pettine will be our head coach and Ray Farmer will be our GM,” Haslam said. “We will not have a CEO, and those three people will report directly to me.”

The shakeup comes one month after the Browns finally hired coach Mike Pettine. Banner and Haslam fired coach Rob Chudzinski after a 4-12 season, the team's sixth straight with at least 11 losses.

“Mike will have final say on the 45-man roster— who plays on Sundays — and Ray will have final say on the 53-player roster,” Haslam said.

Banner, who previously worked in Philadelphia, was hired by Haslam to run the team shortly after his ownership was approved by the NFL in 2012.

“We appreciate Joe's contributions to the Cleveland Browns, especially in helping us as new owners,” Haslam said in a release.

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