In the event you thought an 0-8 record coupled with multiple quarterback changes and outright lying about sending text messages to would-have-been quarterbacks at the NFL Draft was going to be the signature moment of the Cleveland Browns’ 2017 season well do we have news for you: It got worse.
As if missing out on Jimmy Garoppolo (and finding out about the deal from coaches after allegedly leaving the facility at 5 p.m. the day before the trade deadline) wasn’t bad enough, the Browns not only failed to better themselves at said deadline, but are left looking once again like the most inept franchise in the entire league after a botched trade led to two teams pointing fingers, but only one getting the benefit of the doubt.
To put this entire situation in perspective, that the Browns were willing to pay more for A.J. McCarron than the asking price for Garoppolo ranks fourth or fifth on the list of Are You Kidding Me?
According to multiple reports, the Bengals and Browns agreed to a deal that would send McCarron to Cleveland, only the Browns failed to hold up to their end of the clerical deal in getting the trade approval to the league by the deadline.
Aside: I’ve long hated — haaaated — the concept that teams believe they have to wait until the 11th hour to get a trade done. The Mark Shapiro Indians were famous for this, waiting until the day of the deadline to address needs while other teams used the weeks prior to do so. If you know you have a weakness, address that weakness. That you waited until 3:55 p.m. to finalize a deal speaks more to your capabilities in negotiating than anything.
As the deal was botched, reports immediately began to swirl, detailing the Browns’ ineptness throughout the situation. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the team even tried to protest to the league office that the deal should be allowed under the just invented My Bad clause. It wasn’t until three hours later when several local reporters were given “information” that it was the Bengals who messed things up. In a clear effort to cover their ass and not look as disjointed as they did throughout the prior 48 hours, the Browns tried to say they sent their information to the Bengals, but the Bengals didn’t send in both documents (theirs and Cleveland’s) to the league.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) October 31, 2017
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) October 31, 2017
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) October 31, 2017
This immediately reeked of fish as the Bengals, as stated in all reports, held up their end of the submission. If — if — the plan was for the Browns to sign their form and send to the Bengals to sign and submit, how would the league get one with only the Bengals’ affirmation on it?
If agreement was Browns were to sign and send to the Bengals to be affirmed, why would there be a document with only the Bengals’ signature?
— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) November 1, 2017
Now you won’t believe this, but the Browns, in disseminating that story which took three hours to conjure up, may not have been telling the truth. Turns out, if it looks like Dysfunction, and smells like Dysfunction, there’s probably some dysfunction.
There’s one small problem with that excuse. That’s not how trades are communicated to the league. And every key member of every front office knows, or should know, the proper procedure.
Per multiple league sources, a trade becomes official only when both teams independently communicate the trade to the league office. It definitely doesn’t happen as the Browns claim they tried to do it, with chain of communication involving one team sending a form to the other team, which then signs the form and sends it to the league.
And so here are the potential explanations for what’s going on. One, the Browns are lying about what happened to cover up their incompetence. Two, the Browns are telling the truth and are genuinely incompetent. Three, the Browns deliberately sent the paperwork to the Bengals and not to the league office in order to keep the trade from happening, with a premeditated “did I do that?” already in place.
So if you’re keeping score, not only were the Browns asleep at the Trade Deadline wheel while a quarterback they wanted during the draft process was dealt for a pick in which they have plenty of, they didn’t manage to acquire a wide receiver (Kelvin Benjamin was dealt to Buffalo), nor did they manage to FILE PAPERWORK IN TIME to get a quarterback in whom they apparently place plenty of value.
The best part of this all: This is the bye week — it’s supposed to be down time away from an organization that has managed to go 1-23 during a period where parity is so high that the 14 of the 16 AFC teams have at least three wins with 13 of 16 NFC teams having the same. Think about this: 27 of 32 NFL teams have more wins through the first eight weeks of this season than the Browns have in one-and-a-half years.
When Hue Jackson takes to the podium before Week 10, he’ll be littered with questions about this situation. Odds are he’ll tap dance around the entire thing while the front office who was to blame for this entire situation remains silent. It’s almost like they think people will forget about these sorts of gaffes while the truth is they only move down the list of ineptness once something more egregious takes place.
Has anyone checked on Jimmy Haslam?
This Week in #ActualSportswriting:
- “Gaffes, TV ratings concerns dominated as NFL, players forged anthem peace” by Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham (ESPN)1
- “Tom Brady’s Most Dangerous Game” by Tom Junod and Seth Wickersham (ESPN The Magazine)
- “Pushing the Limit” by Alexandra Starr (Harpers)
This Week in #ActualNonsportswriting:
- “Chris Christie’s Last Fight” by Jason Zengerle (GQ Magazine)
- “Tiny House Hunters’ and the shrinking American dream” by Roxanne Gay (CURBED)2
- “Trump, Mueller, and the Rule of Law” by Justin Charity (The Ringer)
This Week in Bleacher Report:
This Week in Picks:
DeShaun Watson isn’t just making the Browns look bad; he’s making bettors look bad as well. The thinking was that Watson, a rookie who has long enjoyed the confines of Houston, would be traveling to an immensely tough place to play against a defense looking to take advantage of the kid. While the Texans would lose, Watson put up a game for the ages, forcing Russell Wilson to resort to late-game heroics, the Seahawks winning by three instead of covering the 5.5-point spread put out by those in Vegas. Since Watson took over as starter (Week 2), the Texans have covered all but one week (Week 5 against Kansas City), adding more luster to an already incredible rookie season. These things typically revert back to the mean, but man—it’s tough to bet against Watson at this point, even when he’s laying 14 to the Colts.
On to this week:
Kansas City (pick) at DALLAS
TENNESSEE (pick) vs. Baltimore
NY GIANTS (+3) vs. Los Angeles Rams
YTD ATS: 16-8
Last Week: 2-1
- This is the story that led to last week’s brushfire regarding quotes from the Houston Texans’ owner. There’s much more here that is worth your time. [↩]
- “In one episode of Tiny House Hunters a man sat in the “bathtub” in the tiny bathroom. He looked ridiculous, his knees practically in his mouth as he contorted himself into the improbable space. He, the realtor, and his friend, who were all viewing the property, were nonplussed, as if the goings on were perfectly normal.” [↩]