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Trying to make sense of the Browns’ trade deadline disaster

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This is a [bleeping] disaster indeed.

San Diego Chargers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns-Cincinnati Bengals disaster at the trade deadline, centering around A.J. McCarron in exchange for a second- and third-round picks, has had a lot of updates since our initial report Tuesday evening.

I could not possibly write about every new wrinkle to the story, because quite honestly, the story was changing every 30 minutes. Nearing noon on Wednesday, the story is still evolving, but it’s to a point where we can try to summarize what information is out there and also take some guesses as to what happened. Remember that what I am presenting below is a combination of reports and personal speculation, so it would be wise not to treat it as cold hard facts.

  • The Browns’ coaching staff, presumably spear-headed by head coach Hue Jackson, wanted the team to acquire McCarron. The front office was not on board with the deal, but then team owner Jimmy Haslam stepped in and basically sided with Jackson, which forced the front office to work toward executing the deal. Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer added that Haslam signed off on the trade “because he knows Jackson is trying to win football games with a lack of talent on offense,” and that because the 49ers had already acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
  • According to Landry Football, “Members of the Browns Player Personnel department feel that while the Front Office did not want to execute the trade, they did so in earnest but ‘screwed up the paperwork’ thus causing the deal to fall through.”
  • We’ve now learned through multiple reports that when NFL trades are executed, each team needs to notify the league themselves, with their own signature. Considering the number of trades that Cleveland has completed during the Sashi Brown era, it would seem naive to believe that they didn’t understand how to file paperwork to complete a trade.
  • On Tuesday, we heard about the Browns sending the Bengals an email with their signature on the trade. Reports from Bengals reporters claimed they never received anything, and even if they did, it wouldn’t have mattered because Cleveland needed to file with the NFL on their own. The Bengals sent their document to the NFL, and Cleveland did not.
  • What happened to the email? On Wednesday, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer broke the news that the Bengals found the email.

[The Bengals] located [the email] by Wednesday, a Bengals spokesperson said. But it came in at about 3:54 p.m., and it did not come directly from Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown, who was working on the trade. Therefore it was not immediately seen.

It came from an assistant of Brown's, director of football administration Chris Cooper, a name the Bengals did not immediately recognize. The email was sent to Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin, who had been dealing with Brown on the trade.

  • Cabot notes that once the Browns and Bengals agreed on the trade parameters over the phone (about 10-20 minutes before the deadline), Cincinnati began working on their paperwork and were not monitoring emails at that time. The word from the Browns (via Cabot’s sources) maintains that they expected Cincinnati to sign and forward their document to the NFL.
  • Cabot says that if Cleveland would have cc’ed the NFL on the email they sent to the Bengals, then the trade would have been completed (because Cincinnati sent their own signed document to the NFL, and had the Browns cc’ed on it).

The crazy part in all of this? I’m sure Sashi Brown’s reluctance in agreeing to the trade led to the stalling that accidentally saved the organization from making a big mistake in over-valuing McCarron, who in my view is no better than Cody Kessler.

So we’ve got an embarrassing situation, and after this, will Haslam be so fumed that he has to fire someone? If he did put his rubber stamp of approval on this, how can you be understanding of a major clerical fuck up? This impacts any teams willing to do future trade negotiations with your front office, because how can you rely on Cleveland to do their part of the agreement properly? Not to mention that you’ve created even more awkward situations in the quarterback rooms of Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Poll

Should someone be fired over this trade debacle?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    No, stay calm and stick with the plan.
    (914 votes)
  • 30%
    Fire Sashi Brown
    (1040 votes)
  • 5%
    Fire Hue Jackson
    (199 votes)
  • 4%
    Fire them both
    (147 votes)
  • 5%
    Fire someone else to set some example
    (186 votes)
  • 27%
    Fire everybody
    (956 votes)
3442 votes total Vote Now