BUFFALO -- While Chip Kelly was talking to the Philadelphia Eagles and deciding whether they were a better option than the Cleveland Browns, one of the fallback options for both teams disappeared.
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone agreed to become the next head coach of the Buffalo Bills, according to a person informed of the discussions between the teams.
The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn't been signed and announced. ESPN first reported early Sunday morning Marrone and Buffalo had reached an agreement.
Marrone, 48, leaves Syracuse after four seasons in which he compiled a 25-25 record. The former New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator remains in upstate New York to replace Chan Gailey. In three years as the Bills' head coach, Gailey was a woeful 16-32.
The Bills spoke to candidates with more NFL experience over the past week, including recently fired Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and former Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt.
They also interviewed Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Kelly. But Kelly's meeting with Buffalo wasn't a long one, and the Bills never seemed like more than a long shot to land him. The Eagles and Browns, however, are duking it out for Kelly.
On Friday, Kelly met with Cleveland for about seven hours. A day later, he spoke to the Eagles for roughly nine hours. Kelly is mulling his options, which also include a return to Oregon. The Browns formally interviewed Marrone.
The Eagles spoke were planning to do so but never got around to it. Indications are the Browns were more serious about their pursuit of Marrone, which ratchets up the pressure for them to land Kelly.
Marrone's record with the Orange is 25-25, including an 8-5 record this past season. Syracuse tied for the Big East Conference championship with a 5-2 record and then defeated West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28.
Under Marrone, the Orange also finished 8-5 in 2010 with a Pinstripe Bowl appearance. Until 2010, Syracuse had not posted a winning record since 2001.
Marrone, who will turn 49 in July, was a three-year starter on the offensive line for Syracuse from 1983 to 1985. He has NFL experience as both a player and a coach. Marrone was drafted in the sixth round of the 1986 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Raiders, then played a season each with the Miami Dolphins (1987) and the New Orleans Saints (1989).
Marrone began his coaching career in 1992 as tight ends coach at Cortland State, and also coached at the collegiate level at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Northeastern, Georgia Tech, Georgia and Tennessee.
He returned to the NFL in 2002 as offensive line coach with the New York Jets, and moved to New Orleans before the 2006 season when he was named the Saints' offensive coordinator.
Two of the seven teams that fired coaches have filled the vacancies: The Chiefs hired former Eagles coach Andy Reid on Friday.