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Browns lure GM Heckert away from Philadelphia

Associated Press / January 11, 2010

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Philadelphia Eagles general manager Tom Heckert has agreed to become the Cleveland Browns’ new GM, a person familiar with the hiring told the Associated Press yesterday.

The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details of Heckert’s contract have not been finalized, said Heckert, 42, could join the team as early as today.

The Browns recently hired Mike Holmgren as their president and now have found a replacement for GM George Kokinis, fired in November.

Holmgren interviewed Heckert last week in between meetings with coach Eric Mangini, who is returning for a second season.

Heckert has been with the Eagles since 2002, serving as the team’s GM since 2006. He was in the final year of his contract in Philadelphia.

Holmgren also interviewed Will Lewis, Seattle’s director of pro personnel, for the GM opening. It’s possible Lewis could still wind up in Cleveland. The Seahawks are undergoing a massive overhaul following coach Jim Mora’s firing last Friday and are in negotiations with Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll.

Dungy disapproves
The swift coaching courtships conducted by the Seahawks and Redskins (Mike Shanahan) have raised questions about whether the spirit of the Rooney Rule has been violated.

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy wonders about the process used by the Redskins, who interviewed assistant coach Jerry Gray for the head coaching position last month even though Jim Zorn still held the job, and then hired Shanahan just days after Zorn was fired.

“That is not what the Rooney Rule is supposed to be,’’ said Dungy. “If the Jerry Gray situation is the way it has been described as happening, I don’t think it was fair.’’

The Seahawks met with Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier Saturday amid reports that Carroll would be hired regardless of Frazier’s interview.

Punter said to be OK
Jets coach Rex Ryan said punter Steve Weatherford appeared to be fine after missing Saturday’s win with an irregular heartbeat and should be OK to play against the Chargers next weekend . . . Cowboys-Eagles Saturday night on NBC earned a 19.6 overnight rating and 32 share, the highest for a first-round game since the 1999 season. Jets-Bengals drew a 16.9/31 on NBC, the best for the early game in 10 years. The average for the two games was up 12 percent from last season.

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