One day after the Browns bungled a trade with the Bengals for quarterback A.J. McCarron, the Browns continue to stick to the story that they sent the appropriate signed documentation to the Bengals with the understanding that the Bengals would sign the documentation and then send it to the league. But league policies and procedures continue to say that’s not how it works.
Sources from five different teams (not the Bengals or the Browns) have informed PFT that, for years if not decades, trades are finalized only when the two teams involved independently notify the league of the deal.
Here’s some language from the relevant policy, as it appears in the Player Personnel Handbook: “Upon agreeing to a trade, clubs shall exchange written messages of the terms and conditions, after which both clubs are required to notify the Commissioner in writing of such terms and conditions.” (Emphasis added.)
This isn’t the first time a question has emerged regarding the procedures for properly communicating a trade to the league. In 2011, the Ravens and Bears had a deal during the first round of the draft. But because both teams didn’t independently inform the league office of the deal, the deal wasn’t done. (The Ravens were upset about it, but there was nothing they could do because the deal wasn’t a deal until the Ravens and the Bears informed the league of the transaction.)
Whatever the explanation or excuse, the Browns failed to consummate the trade. As a result, ownership should immediately convene a meeting of all persons whose fingerprints are in any way on the fiasco. Ownership should explain that everyone will be interviewed separately, and that all relevant documents will be reviewed, in order to determine how accountability should be apportioned. And that accountability will then be imposed.
The accountability should be serious if anyone lies about what they did or why they did it, especially in light of the possibility that coach Hue Jackson wanted McCarron in order to enhance Hue’s chances of winning enough games over the balance of the season to get a third year and someone else wanted to keep the picks and seal Hue’s fate, resulting in an “accidental” failure to finalize the agreement.
The Browns have done a decent job of keeping dysfunction between the front office and the coaching staff under wraps through the last year and a half. But the brown stuff is finally hitting the fan, and ownership should use this incident as a vehicle for determining who needs to stay, and who needs to go.
Maybe the right answer is everyone.