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 CLEVELAND (AP) -Coach Romeo Crennel has agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension with the Cleveland Browns, who won 10 games in his third season and finally returned to NFL respectability.
Crennel's agent, Joe Linta, said Monday night that the sides have agreed in principle to the extension but it hadn't been signed yet. The deal could be finalized as early as Tuesday.
The 60-year-old Crennel, the league's oldest coach, had two years remaining on the five-year deal he signed on Feb. 8, 2005. Once the extension is finalized, Crennel will be signed through the 2011 season.
Crennel began 2007 on the hot seat after going just 10-22 in his first two seasons. However, Crennel, who won three Super Bowl rings as New England's defensive coordinator before coming to Cleveland, guided the Browns to a 10-6 mark - their best since 1999 - and the club just missed making the AFC playoffs.
The extension is not a surprise. Last month, general manager Phil Savage said the Browns intended to reward Crennel for turning the team around after years of disarray.
``He really deserves an extension,'' rookie tackle Joe Thomas said last week. ``He did a great job this year and you can see that his plan is kind of taking hold, what his vision was when he first got hired.
``It will be nice for him to finally not feel the heat from everybody.''
Crennel's extension comes after some major turnover on his coaching staff.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was fired Jan. 11 and replaced by Mel Tucker, who previously coached Cleveland's secondary. Also, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who was being considered by Baltimore as its next head coach, was given a two-year extension through 2011.
Tucker, too, got an extension and the Browns want to have Crennel in line with his coordinators.
Linta began negotiations with Savage at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last week.
Crennel's days with the Browns seemed to be down to a few after they were drubbed 34-7 at home by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener. But sparked by quarterback Derek Anderson, Cleveland quickly turned it around, went 7-1 at home, and missed the postseason because of a tiebreaker.
The Browns credited Crennel's calmness, poise and guidance with getting them through a difficult stretch. He's very popular with Cleveland's players, who awarded Crennel a game ball following a season-ending win over San Francisco.
``He's like a father figure,'' defensive lineman Shaun Smith said. ``I feel like he should have been coach of the year. He deserves it. The team went from 4-12 to 10-6. He's straightforward. He tells the truth.
``He doesn't sugarcoat anything. And if he can't answer something for you, he'll get you an answer in an hour.''

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