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NFL coaching rumors: Cleveland Browns, Mike Pettine have second interview

Mike Pettine is clearly not atop the Cleveland Browns' head coaching wish list, but now that he's scheduled a second interview for the job, he should at the very least be considered a serious candidate.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will interview for the Cleveland Browns' vacant head coaching job a second time, reports ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

The Browns, who are currently the only NFL team without a head coach, are also eyeing Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for the job.

Jason La Canfora of reports that Gase and Quinn sit atop the Browns' list, which jives in part with a Friday report from Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that Quinn has been high on the Browns' list since they fired Rob Chudzinski on December 29. Gase, McDaniels and Quinn are all coaching in today's conference championship games; McDaniels has previously stated that he plans to stay in New England, while multiple reports indicate that Gase plans to stay in Denver, as well. Neither of those reports, by the way, mention Pettine by name.

Pettine therefore remains a darkhorse candidate for the job, aided by the hesitance of Gase and McDaniels, and the interview process potentially being interrupted by Super Bowl bids for the other candidates. If McDaniels stays the course, Denver and Seattle advance to the Super Bowl today, and the Browns get impatient in trying to fill the job, Pettine may be a guy they land on by default. Cleveland can interview any of their candidates after the conference championship games are over, but any candidate on a Super Bowl team couldn't be hired until after the season is over.

Earlier this week, the Bills hired former Tampa Bay safety coach Jeff Hafley as a Defensive Assistant, leading some fans to speculate that the team was preparing for Pettine's potential departure. The Bills finished the 2013 season ranked No. 10 in total defense, and second overall in both sacks and interceptions, after Pettine's first year on the job.