5 quick news items from Kevin Stefanski's introductory press conference

It was a busy, busy Tuesday at FirstEnergy Stadium for Kevin Stefanski's introductory press conference. On top of Stefanski's time behind the podium, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta met with reporters inside the team's locker room.

Here were the five newsiest items to emerge from those sessions.

1. GM search is underway

Haslam said the team's search for a general manager is underway, and in-person interviews could be happening in the very near future. The Browns got the ball rolling with formal requests to candidates even before they informed Stefanski he was the man for the job.

"We will work through it just like we are the coach process," Haslam said. "The only difference is Kevin will be involved. The search committee will go from four members to five and I do not want to say how long it will take. The important thing is to get it right, so we will focus on that."

2. Stefanski not married to calling plays

Stefanski is coming off his first full season as an offensive coordinator, and it was largely a successful campaign. The Vikings were one of just three teams in the NFL to attempt more runs than passes, yet quarterback Kirk Cousins posted arguably the best numbers of his career, including a top-five quarterback rating.

Still, Stefanski isn't married to the notion he needs to continue calling plays in his new role as Browns head coach. If the right candidate emerges as he puts together his staff, Stefanski will be more than happy to relinquish the responsibility.

"I have had really good conversations with a bunch of head coaches, some that have called the plays, some that have not," Stefanski said. "I just think we need to work through that as we put our staff together. Again, I am all about what is best for the Cleveland Browns. If that is me calling the plays, great, if it is not, I am fine with that, too."

Check out photos of new head coach Kevin Stefanski's first press conference

3. Stefanski looking to put together staff 'the right way'

The Browns were deliberate and methodical in the process that led to the hiring of Stefanski, and Stefanski plans to do the same as he assembles his coaching staff.

Stefanski said he first planned to meet with the numerous members of last year's staff who have remained with the team. He'll then tap into the network of connections he's made since taking his first NFL job back in 2005. He also doesn't see his 14 years in Minnesota -- an eternity by NFL standards -- working against him.

"I have been with one organization, but you get to know a lot of people and you grow as a coach and you understand meeting different people," Stefanski said. "There is no shortage of candidates and always we got to meet with the current staff. Sit down with everybody and spend some time with them. We are definitely going to take our time and be diligent about it."

4. Stefanski reaches out to Mayfield, other Browns players

Stefanski said he's reached out to a number of his new players, including quarterback Baker Mayfield, since accepting the job. He said he was able to chat briefly with Mayfield, who is in Austin, Texas, for the first part of the offseason.

"He is the quarterback. He is the triggerman and that is the exciting part for me," Stefanski said. "I worked with a lot of quarterbacks, a lot of great ones over the years, and I am looking forward to hunkering down with him and getting to work. Like any one of our players, when they walk in the building, we will have a detailed plan for them about how they are going to improve. Baker, as a young player, the sky is the limit, but we are going to put in the work to get it done with Baker."

5. The references that mattered for Stefanski

The Browns' search committee did extensive reference checks with all of the candidates, and that certainly included Stefanski -- even after going through the same process with him last year.

For Stefanski, it included roughly 25 to 30 "players, former players, coaches, former coaches, people he worked with particularly in the Vikings organization or people that use to work there," Haslam said. Among the ones that stood out the most were Cousins, former Vikings quarterback Case Keenum -- who had a career year in 2017 when Stefanski was the quarterbacks coach -- and Gary Kubiak, the longtime NFL coach who served as an advisor/assistant head coach with the Vikings in 2019.

"Gary Kubiak could not have spoken more highly of Kevin," Haslam said. "We felt really good about those references.

"The feedback there was really good and I think he will be a big help to Baker, which I think we all know how important that is for the team."

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