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Report: Opt-Out Clause is the Reason the Browns Didn't Hire Doug Marrone

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven't heard, Buffalo does have it worse than Cleveland after all...maybe. After finishing the season at 9-7, late in the day on New Year's Eve, Bills head coach Doug Marrone exercised an opt-out clause in his contract, leaving the team scrambling to fill a significant vacancy. Marrone will now pursue other jobs, and he'll still get $4 million from Buffalo in 2015, even if he latches on to another organization. One such organization that could have a strong interest in him? The New York Jets.

Why in the world would the Bills have offered him such a deal when they hired him back at the beginning of 2013? That is where the Browns enter the picture. If you recall, after the 2012 season, the Browns fired head coach Pat Shurmur, and then CEO Joe Banner was desperately trying to lure Chip Kelly at the beginning of 2013. When that fell through, the team showed strong interest in Doug Marrone, but Marrone ultimately chose the Bills. Now we know why, according to Pro Football Talk:

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Bills believed that [the opt-out clause] was critical to persuading Marrone to choose the Bills over the Browns, who offered the former Syracuse coach a higher salary than Buffalo did.  Ultimately, CEO Russ Brandon and CFO Jeff Littmann approved the term in order to get the deal done.

The Browns ultimately hired Rob Chudzinski, who was dismissed after a year before being replaced by Mike Pettine. Marrone reportedly used his opt-out clause recently as leverage with Buffalo, trying to secure a contract extension for he and his coaching staff. When the team said no, Marrone bounced. It's a move that instantly made him lose the respect of the Bills' locker room, but at the same time, it's probably a savvy business move. He still gets paid for 2014 by Buffalo and could get a bigger contract with a team like the Jets. This guy could make out like a bandit. At least the Browns avoided a situation like this and are firmly in the corner of Pettine heading into 2015.