Freddie Kitchens set to hire Mike Priefer and Steve Wilks as coordinators

Priefer to handle special teams, Wilks defense

Daryl Ruiter
January 11, 2019 - 4:35 pm

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – We are now on the third day since the Cleveland Browns decided to hire Freddie Kitchens as head coach with no announcement, but he is already filling out his coaching staff.

Kitchens hired 2 of his coordinators – special teams and defense – Friday.

Cleveland native Mike Priefer is coming home to be the special teams coordinator and according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks will be the defensive coordinator for the Browns under Kitchens.

Priefer released a statement to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero in which he revealed he declined a new contract to remain with the Minnesota Vikings, where he served as their special teams coordinator the last 8 years, to work for the Browns.

“My contract with the Vikings expired after this season and when the Vikings asked to re-sign me, I decided to humbly decline and have taken a new job with the Cleveland Browns,” Priefer said in the statement to Pelissero. “I am excited to work with Coach Kitchens, John Dorsey and the entire Browns organization.”

Priefer was suspended for the first three games of the 2014 season after former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe accused him of making homophobic comments during a special teams meeting the previous season. Priefer denied the allegations and participated in sensitivity training after an independent investigation found enough cause to suspend him.

Former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph was crossed off the list after being hired as the Cardinals new defensive coordinator and former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who has already interviewed with Carolina and reportedly set to talk to Chicago next, was thought to be in consideration before Cleveland moved forward with Wilks.

Wilks, who was the Panthers’ assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 2017 and a former defensive backs coach for the Panthers, Chargers and Bears, was fired after 1 season in Arizona that saw the Cardinals go 3-13 resulting in landing the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Meanwhile the search for offensive coordinator continues.

Former Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken reportedly will interview with the Browns for the same job here.

Running backs coach Ryan Lindley, who was hired by Kitchens as his replacement after he was promoted to offensive coordinator, is also a candidate to help Kitchens with the offense.  

The Browns remain silent regarding the coordinator and head coach situation and there is no timetable for any formal announcements.