The Browns committed an epic bungle on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the folks who own the team justifiably reacted, strongly.
Per a league source, ownership (specifically 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.
The reaction comes even as the Browns spent much of Wednesday trying to persuade multiple media members that the Browns didn’t screw up the trade that was indeed screwed up. The Browns contend that they signed the appropriate paperwork to reflect their agreement to the deal, that they sent it to the Bengals for signature and submission to the league office, that the Bengals sent documentation signed only by the team, and that by the time the error was detected it was too late to rectify it.
It’s possible that the Browns, who have executed multiple trades under the current regime, always do it this way. Which is fine if there’s time to get everything buttoned up. It’s not fine if, as in this case, the deal has been negotiated as the annual deadline for doing such deals approaches and the other team doesn’t send to the league office documentation signed by both teams.
Meanwhile, multiple teams (the official number now stands at seven) 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).”
Although the Browns have provided the media with plenty of grounds for criticism in recent days, the strong, negative reaction to Tuesday’s trade-deadline misadventure is smart, proper, and in many respects overdue. 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.