Eric Mangini impresses Browns

Eric Mangini has now become the front-runner in the Cleveland Browns’ search for a new head coach.

The Browns have continued their search process, interviewing other candidates, but sources say Mangini had a “compelling” interview and owner Randy Lerner is fascinated with him.

If Mangini gets the job to replace the fired Romeo Crennel, the sources said the favorite to become the team’s general manager would be George Kokinis, who is the director of pro personnel for the Baltimore Ravens.

Kokinis and Mangini each were members of the Browns organization when Bill Belichick was coach. Mangini formally joined the staff as an assistant coach in 1995. Kokinis was a scout from 1991 to 1995 before moving with the team to Baltimore.

Scott Pioli, the Patriots’ executive vice president of player personnel, has been considered the favorite for the GM job, but sources say his demands were “extreme,” and Lerner is hesitant to accept the terms unless there is some level of compromise.

Getting Pioli would be ideal, but I’m always in favor of teams reaching out to front office personal of winning teams, and Kokinis has been a part of a winner in Baltimore. If Mangini and Kokinis have worked together in the past, then that’s obviously a huge plus because you limit the possibility of the two men clashing on personnel decisions.

I don’t think any Cleveland fan should be down on Mangini. He’s a bright young mind and he no doubt learned a few things while working in the Jets’ organization the past three years.

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