The official announcement regarding Tom Heckert becoming the Cleveland Browns general manager came yesterday afternoon. And while Heckert will meet the Cleveland media this afternoon, Browns president Mike Holmgren took to the telephone to announce the move and answer a few preliminary questions about the state of the team.
The biggest focal point of yesterday’s conference call was what role Tom Heckert will have with the Browns. Given the way things went with former general manager George Kokinis, the Cleveland media was understandably curious as to what Heckert’s chief responsibilities would be. Specifically, would Heckert have control of the 53-man roster?
“Yes, he’s going to set up the 53-man roster, but I would temper that just a little bit,” said Holmgren. “He and I are going to be in close communication on that. That will be his responsibility.”
Given typical roster turnover from year to year, a lot of weight will be placed on the shoulders of the scouting team. This area, per Holmgren, will fall squarely in Heckert’s area of expertise and responsibility as the Browns look to possibly add directors of college scouting as well as pro personnel.
“Tom had a lot to do with the success they had in Philadelphia in personnel,” said Holmgren. “If you asked Andy Reid he would tell you the same thing. After we get things in place, [the scoutings staff] will be the general manager’s responsibility with input from me,” Holmgren continued. “He’s going to handle that part of it, he is responsible for that group of men.”
Once the roster is formed, it is then time for head coach Eric Mangini to go to work. First matter of business will be filling out his coaching staff. Currently, all members of last year’s staff are in place aside from wide receivers coach who took a position with Rutgers. But will there be any turnover in the coaching ranks?
“That’ll be Eric’s call,” said Holmgren. “My feeling is, in our initially conversations, is that he was pleased with how the guys did this year. That’s not to say that if someone became available that a change might take place.”
Holmgren did not rule out hiring any more front office members, referencing Will Lewis and his interview last week. All in all, it appears that Heckert and Mangini will each have their own set of focused responsibilities with Holmgren having final say as a “tiebreaker” of sorts.
“We’re looking at it as a partnership – I’m there to break the ties, stated Holmgren. “They will have absolute responsibilities – They’re bright guys. If we do this right, and we’re going to do everything in our power to do it correctly, while we might disagree at the end of the day when we pick a player or we make a decision on a cut, it’s for the Cleveland Browns.”
Those curious as to why Tom Heckert turned down his job offer last year prior to the Eric Mangini hiring will finally get their answer today as Heckert takes the podium. Holmgren believes that the withdrawal had more to do with the situation in Philadelphia than it did Mangini in Cleveland, but said that Heckert would be likely speaking on that issue this afternoon.
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)