The dysfunction that has been evident in the Cleveland Browns football operation this week has apparently not gone unnoticed by ownership.
According to a report from Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, Browns owner Dee Haslam went 'nuclear' on the front office in the aftermath of the failed effort to consummate a trade for Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron.
If this is true, it is certainly warranted.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, citing numerous sources, here's how the last hour of the negotiations went between the Browns and Bengals on Tuesday prior to the league's 4:00 p.m. trade deadline:
About an hour before the deadline, the Browns rejected the final set of terms the Bengals had put forth – McCarron for the two draft picks.
Then, within 20 minutes of the 4 p.m. deadline (there is some dispute over the timestamps reported by ESPN) – Cleveland reversed course.
In that window, Bengals president Mike Brown was called by the Browns and told they would indeed accept the terms the Bengals previously laid out.
The deal was, unofficially, done.
So, the Bengals signed and filed their version of the agreed-upon deal just before the deadline. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that the Bengals copied the Browns on that filing.
The Browns sent a copy of the deal to the Bengals, but The Enquirer confirmed the original ESPN report that the Browns did not send anything to the league.
Meanwhile, multiple teams have told PFT that the Browns and Bengals should have separately informed the league office of the terms of the trade. As one source put it via email to PFT, “Only requirement is for both clubs to separately notify the league office via email of trade terms. If trade terms match, deal done. No need to sign paperwork and submit prior. Have 15 days to submit trade papers (with terms that identically match emails).”
I'll let Florio have the last word with this scathing indictment of the Browns football operation:
The football operation currently is a mess, and even though ownership seems to be committed to showing that it can stay the course for at least two full years, a 1-23 record, decisions to pass on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, and the embarrassing failure to consummate the McCarron deal should cause them to chart a new course ASAP — and to eventually hire someone smart and capable and to get out of the way completely and let that person try to fix things, once and for all.