Baltimore NFL owner Art Modell said yesterday that he plans to have his front-office staff completed within 10 days, including decisions made on the status of coach Bill Belichick and a possible front-office position for former Miami coach Don Shula.
Modell said his timetable isn't definite, but he wants to move ahead in timely fashion.
"I want to do it the right way," said Modell. "We have to get the ball rolling. I'll get opinions, meet with my key people, then make the ultimate decisions."
Modell said he plans to meet with Belichick this week, possibly at the team's training facility in Berea, Ohio. Modell was evasive about his plans for Belichick, who has a 37-45 record in five years with Cleveland.
The Browns finished 5-11 last season, losing six of their last seven after Modell announced that his team was moving to Baltimore.
"I will not talk about my agenda with Bill," said Modell. "Nor will I talk about any other coaches because that leads to speculation. One day it's Shula who is going to coach my team. The next day it's Ted Marchibroda. Next it will be Knute Rockne. I'll make an announcement when or if there is an announcement to be made."
Belichick says he hasn't heard from Modell in two to three weeks.
"What I'm doing is preparing like I've always done this time of year," said Belichick, who did not attend the scouting combine in Indianapolis as first thought. "I've broken down the offense and defense, and talked to our coaches about some new things that might work. I've talked about which free agents we might take a look at, and some players we might draft.
"As of now, I'm still the coach," said Belichick.
Modell said he plans to meet with Shula again this week to talk about possibly being a general manager or a similar position where he would run the entire football operation.
Shula, the league's all-time winningest coach, did not return phone calls yesterday.
Marchibroda's name surfaced recently after he left the Indianapolis Colts, who refused his request for a two-year contract.
Two other candidates are Oakland Raiders assistant coach Joe Bugel and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Pete Carroll. Bugel was 20-44 in three years as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, but many thought he was fired a year before the Cardinals were about to become a playoff team. Carroll was 6-10 in 1994 with the New York Jets. He was unavailable to comment last night.
"The rumors about the Baltimore job opening have been buzzing all week," Bugel said from the scouting combine in Indianapolis. "I haven't had any contact with Mr. Modell about the job, but I would be interested. I would be stupid to say no. I know what kind of town it is from my days with the Redskins. It's one heck of a city that was devastated when the team left. That team has a really solid nucleus of players."