The Browns, as everyone knows, botched the trade for A.J. McCarron despite their initial try at casting blame at the Bengals. Ultimately, it came down to the Browns waiting too long to call the Bengals and initiate talks.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer interviewed more than a half-dozen league sources, putting together a play-by-play from the deal that wasn’t:
The Browns first called the Bengals at 3:54 p.m., six minutes before the trade deadline. The Bengals emailed their paperwork to the NFL at 3:55 p.m. But the Browns, instead of sending their paperwork to the league, sent it to Cincinnati for the Bengals to sign and send to the league.
The problem was: The Bengals didn’t see the email because it came from Chris Cooper, Sashi Brown’s assistant. Duke Tobin, the Bengals player personnel director, was busy getting his own paperwork completed and finally opened the email the following day.
Even then, the league would not have approved the trade, via Cabot, because the documents didn’t match. Even if the compensation — second- and third-round picks in 2018 — was the same, the other language, such as conditions, wasn’t.
The Browns received the Bengals’ document at 3:59 p.m., realized it didn’t match theirs and called the league to appeal. The league denied the request; McCarron remains in Cincinnati; and the Browns remain in search of a long-term starting quarterback after botching another chance at one.