Then, in wake of owner Randy Lerner's declaration that Steelers minority owner Jimmy Haslem was interested in purchasing the team, Holmgren flip-flopped his stance, confirming the team is for sale, but it is not moving anywhere.
Such is the stance of an executive who has only two years left on his current contract, has brought very few wins in his first three seasons and is staring down rumors that other successful executives (former Eagles president Joe Banner) are part of a potential ownership group.
Banner's presence within the organization would most likely mean Holmgren's time in Cleveland is over.
It's not the Browns leaving town (they have an iron-clad lease on their stadium preventing their departure at least through 2029), it will be Holmgren, who recently turned 64 and said his position with the Browns is "his last big adventure."
When it comes down to it, whomever the new ownership group would be, they aren't going to let someone as experienced as Holmgren dangle in the wind for a year before doing what they're planning to do all along; instill their own people.
Banner oversaw the Eagles at the height of outstanding production that saw the team reach a Super Bowl and five NFC Championship games. It's not as if he's being hired; he's part of the buying group. A guy with 11 years of experience in running championship-level teams isn't going to just sit in the owner's box.
If Holmgren goes, that's all but guaranteeing a losing record will bring on the removal of head coach Pat Schurmur, giving the Browns to their fourth coach since 2008 (Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Schurmur).
It could be the step-back-to-take-two-steps-forward the Browns need to remove themselves from the basement of the NFL. Even with a heavy investment in offensive players to join one of the league's more underrated defensive units in 2011, it doesn't appear the Browns will be more competitive than 6-10 (on a high note) this season.
The speculation flying around can't help them much, either.
Browns Training Camp Battles
NFL Preseason Video Series: Cleveland Browns 2012 Training Camp Battles (via sbnnfl)