Posted: Tuesday November 30, 2004 9:00AM; Updated: Tuesday November 30, 2004 2:21PM
Butch Davis coached his last game with Cleveland -- a 58-48 loss to Cincinnati -- on Sunday.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
After spending most of Monday negotiating the terms of his departure after nearly four seasons with the team, the Cleveland Browns and head coach Butch Davis will part ways on Tuesday, league sources told SI.com.
In an early Tuesday morning meeting with his coaching staff, Davis confirmed the news to his assistants, informing them he would no longer be the Browns head coach within hours.
While the Browns organization is describing Davis' departure as a resignation, those in the Davis camp portrayed it to SI.com as a firing. In any event, Davis becomes the second NFL head coach this season to be let go, following in Dave Wannstedt's footsteps in Miami earlier this month. Like Wannstedt, Davis was an onetime Dallas Cowboys assistant under Jimmy Johnson.
The Browns and Davis spent Monday negotiating a buyout of the final three years remaining on the head coach's contract. Davis was owed between $11 million and $12 million on a deal that extends through the 2007 season, but the two sides reached a buyout agreement that would pay Davis less than that figure, in exchange for allowing him to walk away from the Browns with five games remaining this season.
Cleveland, which has lost five consecutive games and sunk to last place in the AFC North at 3-8, is expected to name offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie as its interim head coach for the rest of the '04 season. The Browns could also tap defensive coordinator Dave Campo -- the former Dallas head coach -- for the interim role, but he is seen as having close ties to Davis and thus less likely to get the nod.
Speculation regarding Davis's shaky future in Cleveland has been rampant for weeks, but Sunday's embarrassing 58-48 loss at Cincinnati was the final nail in his coffin. The defeat ensured the Browns of the third non-winning season in Davis's four years in Cleveland, and dropped his overall record with the team to 24-36.
Early Tuesday morning, most key officials in the Browns organization were already at work, sources said, giving every indication that the club was bracing for a day in which a major changing of the guard would take place. Davis's agent, Marvin Demoff, and Browns team president, John Collins, spent much of Monday negotiating a buyout package for Davis, but it was not clear until Tuesday morning whether a settlement had been struck.
Last offseason, despite coming off a disappointing 5-11 record in 2003, Browns owner Randy Lerner gave Davis a surprising two-year extension worth about $4 million per season in '06-07. Davis already had more than $3 million salary owed him in '05, the final season of his original five-year deal with the Browns.