Marc Weinreich
Wednesday January 1st, 2014

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is represented by an agent with strong ties to the Cleveland Browns. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is represented by an agent with strong ties to the Cleveland Browns. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns are reportedly looking at Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn or Vanderbilt's James Franklin to replace Rob Chudzinski, who was fired earlier this week after the team finished 4-12.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported Tuesday that the Browns are "very interested" in naming one of them to lead the team next season.

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Cleveland is also expected to make former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, who was fired this week after a 7-9 record this season, the team's defensive coordinator for 2014. The Browns' current defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, has been given permission by the team to explore other options.

Schwartz, Malzahn, Franklin and Josh McDaniels -- the Patriots offensive coordinator and another candidate to replace Chudzinski -- are all represented by agent Jimmy Sexton, who has strong ties to the Browns organization.

Cleveland has interviews scheduled with several candidates for the head coaching vacancy but are doing "arduous legwork on Malzahn and Franklin," according to La Canfora, and are "very intrigued by them," with some sources saying that Malzahn is the the most likely to land the job in Cleveland. BURKE: Bill O’Brien to be named Texans’ new head coach

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