Whether Unintentional Or By Design, Browns’ Botching Of Trade Is A PR Headache

So, they tried, right? The Cleveland Browns made an attempt to acquire an upgrade at the quarterback position, reportedly, agreeing in principle to a trade with the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals for AJ McCarron in exchange for what is said to have been second- and third-round draft picks.

Or did they? One might have to wonder.

In the chaos of the two teams’ failed trade, a “league source” let it be known, according to Mary Kay Cabot, that “the Browns sent a signed document to the Bengals and expected them to also sign it and send it to the NFL”. The Bengals said that they never got such a document.

The problem is, that is not how trades even work. One team does not forward a document to another team. All paperwork from both teams goes straight to the league for approval and does not involve collaborative interaction between the two parties.

“Separate documents”, Cabot writes, “signed only by that team—constitutes a trade”. Period. End of story. That is how a trade is executed. Both teams send in paperwork directly from their headquarters to the league office. The league office reviews the paperwork and either approves or denies the trade.

The Browns’ story is nonsense, and one might be inclined to wonder what variety of nonsense, precisely, it is. Could it truly be possible that they do not know how to conduct a trade properly? That would seem to be a stretch, given that they have made a number of trades within the past two seasons.

So if they know—or should know—what the procedure is through prior experience, could it be a simple cover story to explain why their paperwork did not arrive in time, somehow working under the assumption that this description would be a less embarrassing failure?

Or could they have gotten cold feet and determined that the value that they were giving up—a pair of day-two draft picks—was too rich for their blood, and so they failed to send in the paperwork in time deliberately, citing this excuse, in order to sabotage the trade?

For the Bengals’ part, a spokesperson said that the league confirmed they successfully executed their end of the trade. The obvious implication, given that they ultimately rejected the trade, is that the Browns did not.

Yet the Browns supposedly petitioned the league to approve the trade in spite of the fact that their half of the paperwork arrived late. If that is the case, then we have to settle back on the incompetence narrative, which unfortunately is quite believable.

Cabot writes that Brown head coach Hue Jackson, who was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator when they drafted him, wanted McCarron as a veteran who could not only start and win games, “but could also help mentor DeShone Kizer and the other young quarterbacks on the roster”.

But McCarron is a young quarterback himself, having only turned 27 in September. Kizer actually has more starting experience, and has attempted more passes.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Iulo

    Hue Jackson is desperate… he has been ugly, horrible and unworthy. He is a joke.
    Pettine, Chudzinski, Shurmur, Mangini, Crennel, even Robiskie had better records.
    what more can be said?

  • NW86

    I think we just entered the last month of Hue Jackson’s tenure with the Browns. Not just because of this – this was probably more on the front office – but it is indicative of the massive dysfunction in the organization right now. It’s possible that Sashi Brown is about to be gone too.

  • Jeff Dudash

    I wonder if sabermetrics can prove how bad the Browns front office sucks.

  • Jeff Dudash

    We live in a glorious time for Steelers fans given the ineptitude of our division rivals. The Ravens have Joe Flacco. The Bengals have Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis. And the Browns … are the Browns.

    This won’t always be the case. At some point, the Ravens will find a truly elite QB, the Bengals will hire a good headcoach and the Browns … well, the Browns will always be the Browns, but the other teams will improve at some point.

  • Ed Smith

    I’m glad this didn’t happen. Browns would ave been better for it and giving the Bengals 2 high draft picks is not something I think we want to see.

  • francesco

    The NFL is really strict.

  • Frank Martin

    The Browns could have had Carson Wentz or Deshaun Watson. Instead they went after and got Brock Osweiler, who is no longer with the team. That tells you everything you need to know about the Browns.

  • Stairway7

    They should have drove to Pittsburgh and borrowed our fax machine….we know it works.

  • DirtDawg1964

    Good grief. This really shines a bad light on the Browns. Pretty sure they didn’t deliberately botch this since they reportedly complained to the league and wanted the trade to be approved. Claiming the Bungles bungled the trade makes them look even more incompetent.

    I’m all in favour of analytics and data driven insights but you still have to execute.

  • stan

    A second and third round pick is an absurd price for McCarron, and I say that as a guy who thinks the McCarron can really be a good starting quarterback in the league based on his outperforming Dalton when he’s gotten a chance to play. I think the Browns got cold feet and are using this as a way to back out of the deal. I have to say that both options are totally ridiculous though.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I can’t wait to see what teams are going to give up in order to draft one of the top QB prospects in 2018. I predict multiple bouts of insanity among GMs.

  • colingrant

    Not often will an NFL team create news capable of qualifying for “news of the weird”. Not the first time for such blunder. If I recall correctly, in the 90’s, they forfeited a 1st round pick simply for taking too much time getting up to the podium to submit their 1st round selection even though they had 15 minutes to do so and AND had predetermined their pick, who I recall was a Penn State tight end rated highest in the draft at that position.

    I believe he was eventually drafted by the Jets who had the next pick AND was among a handful of teams negotiating with the Browns seeking to “trade up” to draft the tight end. Turns out, that wasn’t even necessary, as the Jets landed him without having to compensate the Browns. I think Bill Bellichick was the Browns coach at the time. If there’s any consolation for the Browns, it would be the tight end ended up with a career not matching his first round pedigree.

    Still though, forfeiting a 1st round pick is as egregious an error you’ll ever see in pro sports. I might have a few facts wrong, as I’m going solely on memory, however the fact remains, the Browns legendarily poor management spans 3.5 DECADES now ……. And counting.

  • PapaJuju

    Don’t crow too much. We could be in the same boat in just a few short months. I really think Big Ben is close to retirement.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Supposedly, Jimmy Haslam was on board with the trade because he understood that Jackson was trying to win games without talent at quarterback. I do think, whether justified or not, he still has the backing of the owner, but I can’t imagine he gets another season like this to just pass.

  • MDPensFan

    If Ben is serious about retiring, I hope he lets the front office know about it well in advance of the draft and free agency. I’d love to see the Steelers make a run at Kirk Cousins.

  • Ken

    AJ McCarron – possibly for a 6th or 7th round pick…

  • Lambert58

    Definitely NOT for a high 2nd & high 3rd. How ridiculous.

  • I4giveSteelers

    me to

  • HondoCogburn

    Maybe hire Kevin Costner as their G.M. he couldn’t be any worse than what they’ve had in the past.