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Browns hire Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski

By Jonathan Jones
jjones@charlotteobserver.com

The Carolina Panthers are now in the market for a new offensive coordinator.

Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has accepted the head coaching position with the Cleveland Browns, a source close to Chudzinski told the Observer's Joe Person late Thursday night.

Chudzinski, who just finished his second year as offensive coordinator, helped lead the Panthers to two consecutive top-12 finishes in total offense in the league.

He's the former Browns offensive coordinator (2007-08) and a tight ends coach there in 2004.

The Browns fired head coach Pat Shurmur on Dec. 31. Last year, Chudzinski interviewed with Jacksonville, St. Louis and Tennessee, ultimately losing out on each head coaching position.

The departure of Chudzinski comes after a series of major decisions in the Panthers' organization. Late last week, head coach Ron Rivera was told he would return for the 2013 season. Earlier in the week, three assistant coaches were fired, including two offensive assistants. And on Wednesday, the Panthers hired Dave Gettleman as their new general manager.

The focus now shifts to finding a new offensive coordinator for the Panthers and franchise quarterback Cam Newton, who had been with an offensive coordinator for more than one full year for the first time in his career since high school. One of the top names on the market will be Norv Turner, the former San Diego head coach who has strong ties to Rivera, but early reports have Turner following Chudzinski to Cleveland.

Quarterbacks coach Mike Shula could be considered for the Panthers' offensive coordinator position, as well.

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