(WBEN/AP) Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine Jr, could be on his way to a head coaching job at the Cleveland Browns.
Buffalo confirmed Wednesday night that it had granted the Browns permission to interview Pettine. The 47-year-old just completed his first season with Buffalo after four as the New York Jets' defensive coordinator.
The Browns were the first team to fire a coach after the season, and they'll be the last to hire one now that the Minnesota Vikings have agreed to a contract with former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who interviewed for the Cleveland opening a year ago.
With criticism growing as the search drags on, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam sent a letter to fans Wednesday in which he explained the Browns' "methodical" hunt for a "strong coach."
Haslam fired Rob Chudzinski last month following a 4-12 season, forcing the Browns to look for their seventh full-time coach since 1999 and fourth in six years.
Haslam inciicated that Pettine is not the only candidate for the post.
The owner said the team has spoken to a "number of outstanding candidates" and indicated he and CEO Joe Banner will meet with assistant coaches currently in the NFL playoffs.
"We have purposefully been very methodical in our approach," Haslam said in the letter released by the team and posted on its website. "We believe it is very important to stay disciplined to this process and to interview all of the candidates on our list. We are strongly committed to finding the right person to coach the Cleveland Browns."