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Report: Joe Banner Wanted to Fire Michael Lombardi, Then Was Flabbergasted When Both Were Canned

Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer dishes on some more juicy nuggets regarding the Browns' front office shakeup.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Yesterday, I wrote an article giving my take on why it was necessary for Jimmy Haslam to fire Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi. Peter King of MMQB has provided some of the rumblings regarding why the firing took place, but this morning, it was Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer who provided some more juicy details:

Banner and Lombardi clashed over a number of things, but the disconnect came to a head during the tumultuous 25-day coaching search. By the end of it, Banner wanted to fire his embattled GM, and Lombardi knew it. If he didn't know, he missed the writing on the wall.

But what Banner didn't know -- and should have -- was that Haslam had also grown weary of him during the search -- portrayed as dysfunctional in the local and national media -- and was gearing up to fire him. The owner and the CEO didn't see eye-to-eye over a number of candidates, and Haslam came to feel that Banner was the reason some didn't want to interview for -- or accept -- his coaching job.

Cabot also reveals some surprising aspects of the coaching search, including the fact that Josh McDaniels re-entered the coaching search on his own accord and was in the hunt for the job right up until Mike Pettine was hired. She also affirms that everyone was sold on Pettine and came away very impressed by him, but that Haslam was still not pleased with how the entire search went down and the perception of his front office around the league. Cabot also dismisses a report from King that Ken Whisenhunt was anything but professional during his interview with the team.

We've heard that Banner was completely off-guard by his dismissal, which conflicts with what Haslam hinted at when he said that the two of them had been talking for awhile now about restructuring the organization. Perhaps by "restructuring," Haslam was seeking Banner's advice on having everybody report to him, leaving out the part that Banner would be cast aside:

Two sources said Banner was "flabbergasted'' by his firing and never saw it coming. They said Banner thought Haslam was happy with Banner's first 16 months, during which he attracted excellent top-level executives such as President Alec Scheiner and general counsel Sashi Brown and had overhauled the entire operation.

I thought this would be a closed-book type of situation in regards to reports coming out about why the front office shakeup took place, but instead, it sounds like sources are as anxious as ever to spill the beans. To me, that's a sign of other team executives being relieved that these moves were made, and they want to paint a picture of how justified Haslam's moves were.

All of it goes back to my point that Haslam saw this disconnect between the pair and had to say to himself, "My god, we have the greatest cap situation and draft pick accumulation that one could ask for. There's no way I'm letting these two guys throw that down the toilet ... especially when I have potentially better and much more well-liked replacements waiting in the wings."