The Browns have hired Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as their coach, ending a twisting, nearly four-week search.
Pettine finalized a contract Thursday with the Browns, who fired Rob Chudzinski on Dec. 29 following one season. The 47-year-old Pettine, the son of a legendary Pennsylvania high school coach, spent one year with the Bills after four as Rex Ryan's defensive coordinator with the New York Jets.
With his clean-shaven head and no-nonsense approach, Pettine is popular with players. He'll inherit a Cleveland team that went 4-12 this season after losing its last seven games.
Pettine emerged as the favorite to become Cleveland's seventh full-time coach since 1999 — and fourth in six years — as the Browns eliminated candidates and Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, considered the front-runner when the search started, told the team to move on without him.
Pettine was scheduled to be introduced at a late afternoon news conference.
His hiring ends a 25-day odyssey for the Browns. It was a search filled with rumors, denials, withdrawals and far too much drama for a franchise seeking stability.
On Wednesday night, reports of a "mystery" candidate sent some Browns into a social-media frenzy, jamming Twitter timelines with all types of theories.
The Browns flew to Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday to interview Pettine for the second time at the Senior Bowl. The four-hour meeting came shortly after Gase, the first candidate the team contacted, called Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and withdrew from consideration.
Gase wasn't the only coach to reportedly bow out. New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels — another early front-runner — also told the Browns thanks, but no thanks.
The team had been expected to give Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn a second interview, but if he was their pick, the Browns would have had to wait until after the Super Bowl to finalize a deal.