Getting to know new Browns GM John Dorsey: WFNY FAQs

Less than 11 hours after they fired Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown, the Cleveland Browns had already found their (new) guy. Thursday night, the team announced that they have hired former Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey to fill the same role with the Browns. He signed a four-year deal to come to Cleveland.

One of the biggest names on the market when it comes to experienced candidates, Dorsey is liked and respected throughout the league and will bring credibility to a winless team that has won just one of its last 28 games.

First and foremost, is Dorsey excited for the new gig and the chance to possibly turn around the Browns?

To say he is excited would probably be an understatement. Here’s Dorsey’s statement following the announcement that he is the new general manager of the Browns.

“Football is what I know, it is what I love, it is what I have worked my whole career at and I thrive on every element that goes into building a winning football team,” Dorsey said of his past experiences. “I have spent a majority of my football life with two franchises that also have storied history and I think I have a feel for the mentality of the fans in Cleveland and what it would mean to recreate the success this franchise once had. I also have quickly realized how passionate Jimmy and Dee are about bringing a winning team to the city and would have not taken the job if I didn’t think the right ownership was in place. I am eager to work with Hue, his staff, and our personnel department and help bring us the success these fans so deserve.”

I know he’s the general manager, but will he have final say in terms of the roster?

As an experienced football executive, Dorsey will have final say over the roster and salary cap. Given the amount of draft picks (13) and cap space that the Browns will have this offseason, he will have the opportunity to prove just how good of a decision maker he is right off the bat.

Dorsey and head coach Hue Jackson will work hand-in-hand, but the general manager will have final say.

Does he have a lot of experience in the NFL?

Absolutely. The 57-year-old has been in and around the league ever since he was a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers from 1984-1988. Following his retirement, Dorsey decided to remain with the Packers, taking a job as a college scout in May, 1991. He was then promoted to Director of College Scouting in February, 1997.

After Mike Holmgren decided to go to the Seattle Seahawks, Dorsey followed him to Seattle, taking the role of the team’s Director of Player Personal in January, 1999 before resigning from the position in 2000.

Following his resignation, Dorsey returned to Green Bay, where he was once again the Director of College Scouting, like he was previously before deciding to head to Seattle. While winning a Super Bowl ring, he was then named Director of Football Operations in 2012.

He held that position for less than a year, when he was named the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, where he was reunited with head coach Andy Reid. Dorsey spent four years with in Kansas City before the Chiefs fired him on June 22, 2017. He has been out of the NFL the last six months since.

Jimmy and Dee Haslam recognize the fact that Dorsey has been in the NFL for 26 years, which is one of his greatest attributes.

“We are thrilled to have John Dorsey lead our football operations,” said Dee and Jimmy Haslam. “John has been immersed in the NFL for 26 years, won two Super Bowls, built sustainable winning football teams and is highly respected for his football acumen. We know we have a critical and very positive opportunity ahead of us to profoundly impact the foundation of this football team. Bringing in someone of John Dorsey’s caliber, his track record of success and his experience, significantly strengthens our opportunities to build a winning football team and that has been, and continues to be, what we want for our fans.”


Why was he let go in Kansas City this past June?

In a surprising decision, Dorsey’s contract was not renewed by the Chiefs, a decision that sent plenty of shock waves throughout the NFL. But why was he let go, you ask? According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, it was mainly about the reputation he built of being impulsive and disorganized.

Given the power each then wielded, the stock criticism of Dorsey—that while he’s incredibly respected as an evaluator, he’s more scout than manager—was validated with a level of disorganization that was noticeable before the hyper-organized Ballard departed, and obvious after he left for Indy.

As one source explained it, “It wasn’t dysfunction so much as it was decisions were being made that seemed to come out of nowhere. So that existed, but the people here weren’t aware that ownership was aware of it. … You look back now, how it worked out, and ownership was more aware that it didn’t need to be run that way.”

There were three moves in particular over the last 18 months that left plenty of people in Kansas City questioning Dorsey’s decision making:

The selection of Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. That move stunned scouts and coaches, based on the evaluation and meetings leading up to the draft. Hogan didn’t wind up making the team four months later, and started last season on the Browns’ practice squad.

• The four-year, $48 million extension with left tackle Eric Fisher in August 2016. At the time of signing, Fisher had failed to entrench himself at the left tackle spot he was drafted to play. In fact, Fisher lost the job to Donald Stephenson during the 2015 season, and Fisher was flipped to the right side. The Chiefs still did the big contract, despite having a year left on Fisher’s rookie deal, and an option year after that.

• The five-year, $41.25 million deal for guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in February. This deal came, like Fisher’s, in Duvernay-Tardif’s first offseason eligible for a second contract. Meanwhile, the Justin Houston and Eric Berry contract talks simmered—cap guru Trip MacCracken was let go last month—and the team has spent the past couple years perilously close to the salary cap.

According to The Kansas City Star’s Terez Paylor, behind the scenes, the Chiefs’ front office did not always run as smoothly as it may have looked from an outsider’s perspective. The internal communication and management style of Dorsey were most alarming at times.

“John does stuff and doesn’t tell people why,” and it “could wear on people.”

Was there unrest between Dorsey and the rest of the front office and coaching staff in Kansas City?

At times, yes. While the Chiefs were continuing to have success, the general manager seemed to be making decisions on his own rather than having it be collaborative. He was re-signing some of his own draft picks, such as Fisher and Duvernay-Tardif, rather than focusing on the true talent that needed to be secured. Also, the way the release of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin happened this past offseason drew plenty of questions as well. The issues were more in-house than anything, unlike the Browns regime that included Brown.

Then again, it wasn’t always just Dorsey making the decisions. The Chiefs trading up to draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes was a collaborative decision.

With that said, did he have success during his time in Kansas City?

Yes. He and Reid, who both served on the Packers staff together from 1992-1997, had plenty of success both on the field and in the draft. In terms of record, which matters the most, the Chiefs compiled a 43-21 record1 and made the playoffs three times during the four years that Dorsey was their general manager.

What are his best attributes that he will bring to the Browns?

Scouting and evaluating talent. Dorsey not only has plenty of experience with each, but he has had plenty of success as well. Whether it be in Green Bay or Kansas City, the new general manager is credited with being the main reason why the Packers and Chiefs drafted some of the talent that they did, including some future Hall of Famers. He struggled at times managing the salary cap, but he was tremendous in talent evaluation and player acquisition and it showed.

Out of the NFL for the past few months, has Dorsey been preparing for another job in the league, like the one he just took with Cleveland?

Yes. With the Browns accumulating so many picks in the 2017 draft2, the next few months leading up to April are very important and will decide the fate of the team for the foreseeable future.

He talked about what he has been doing during his time off, including doing his homework on the 2018 draft class, during a podcast with ESPN’s Adam Schefter in November.

Being able to find talent in the draft is important. Who are some of the top players Dorsey drafted throughout his time in the NFL?

With plenty of experience as a scout, he has had his fair share of being apart of plenty of drafts. Dorsey has made the most of them, too.

He worked closely with general managers Mike Sherman and Ted Thompson as the Director of College Scouting with the Packers for almost 12 years. Dorsey is credited with helping draft quarterback Aaron Rodgers (first round, 2005), linebacker A.J. Hawk (first round, 2006), wide receiver Greg Jennings (second round, 2006), linebacker Clay Matthews (first round, 2009), and defensive tackle B.J. Raji (first round, 2009), all of which were Pro Bowlers. Although he wasn’t the general manager, many seem to believe that Dorsey had a major role in drafting those three players listed above.

In Kansas City, he is credited for drafting talents such as tight end Travis Kelce (third round, 2013), cornerback Marcus Peters (first round, 2015), and wide receiver Tyreek Hill (fifth round, 2016). Although they are just rookies, he should also be credited with drafting quarterback Patrick Mahomes (first round), who will be the successor to Alex Smith, and running back Kareem Hunt (third round) last April.

Does Dorsey understand the importance of the quarterback position?

Absolutely. While Alex Smith may not be among the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Dorsey and the Chiefs acquired Smith from the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 in exchange for a 2013 second-round pick and 2014 conditional pick.

Kansas City also traded up this past April to select highly-regarded quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who will likely take over for Smith sooner rather than later.

Has he ever won any awards for his accomplishments throughout his career?

Following his first season as the Chiefs’ general manager, Dorsey was named the 2013 Executive of the Year by Pro Football Writers of America. Kansas City was 2-14 in 2012 and went 11-5 in his first year leading the charge.

Some may question why Dorsey is still jobless 14 weeks into the NFL season, but considering his experience and the things he has done in his career in the front office, Dorsey seems like a great hire for the Browns. Now, he must prove it, and it all starts with the upcoming offseason.

  1. Their .672 winning percentage was the fourth-highest in the NFL during that span. []
  2. The Browns have five picks in the first three rounds, including two in first round and three second-rounders. []

  • jpftribe

    Good piece Josh. Looking forward to the “Browns have hired the most qualified Head Coach available” in December 2018.

  • scripty

    I take away that “cap guru Trip MacCracken” is the greatest name of any cap guru in history

  • akzipper

    This feels like the Holmgren-Mangini situation all over again. Holmgren was a well respected football guy brought in to save the Browns. Hopefully Dorsey is more willing to work with Hue and not use 2018 as an audition year.

  • tigersbrowns2

    the snarkists will say the Haslams had to do this to keep from losing the fan base & avoid the torchforks … i say it shows the Haslams realize this is absolutely our biggest off-season since 1999 & that they truly WANT TO WIN.

    i applaud them.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i know my buddy HARV has been clamoring for a true “football guy” that can recognize talent … well , we got one now. though I wonder what will become of Depodesta & Berry.

  • Harv

    The Schefter pod with him is worth a listen. My takeaways from it: 1) He needed, emotionally, to get back into a GM spot as soon as possible. So I’m not sure Haslam had to make him a lot of promises (who knows if he did); 2) This guy has been spending his days studying college players. So while it would be nice if he had scouts watching bowl games with his criteria in mind, he’ll be ok by April; 3) He puts heav emphasis on player heart and that they “play football” (presumably lesser emphasis on combine numbers and pure projection of potential).

    I find Schefter really grating but he did ask a lot of questions directly relevant toi Browns fans.

  • scripty

    Depodesta reports directly to ownership. I don’t see him going away. The Kovash guy will probably see his role stay the same but his input taken less rigidly.

  • scripty

    “He puts heav emphasis on player heart and that they “play football” (presumably lesser emphasis on combine numbers and pure projection of potential).”

    This reads Baker Mayfield over Josh Rosen

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi SCRIPTY … or maybe he brings Alex Smith with him … or maybe BOTH.

  • MartyDaVille

    I don’t know how much weight we should give to Dorsey’s personality and management flaws, but they obviously were serious enough that K.C. couldn’t tolerate them any more. So this looks like another high-risk, high-reward crap shoot. But you can’t really judge a Browns hire until after two years to see if they’re still here.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi MARTY … but that 43-21 record speaks volumes as well. I know he can’t take all the credit for that , but to us , that has to look pretty good.

  • Harv

    – Your buddy Harv is having a really good day. Since I first stumbled on this website (back in the ’40s, I think) all I’ve preached is that they hire someone as GM or HC who has done THAT job successfully before. I’ve posted 2,437 comments to that effect. Haslam has finally done that, and even if it does not work I will not fault Haslam for this hire. This was my plan. Stick with this plan.

    – The DePo and Berry issues will resolve organically. Either Dorsey will ignore the DePo spread sheets and DePo will leave for a more fulfilling job, or he’ll feel valued and stay. But Dorsey came here to call the shots. I can see Berry staying at least through the draft since he’s a link and potential interpreter for the college scouting reports and the existing scouting methods, but he’s going to have to prove his worth to his new boss on Dorsey’s terms.

  • Harv

    Not so sure. He also talks a lot about player character and who knows whether he’ll interpret Mayfield’s shtick as more fiery competitiveness than fatal immaturity. But making the right call on this is exactly why they hired this particular guy.

  • I have a feeling one of the following will happen under John Dorsey:

    1. A few weeks later from now, Dorsey or Jackson will leave the Browns in a similar fashion to the Mangini/Kokinis situation.

    2. This time next year, Browns fans all hate John Dorsey for using up all of our salary cap space on bad players and somehow using 13 draft picks to draft 4 players who won’t pan out that well in the NFL. (Ray Farmer)

    3. He delivers as advertised and we start seeing major progress on the team leading to more wins.

    4. I get a dog, even though I’m a cat person… err sandwich.

    My current stance on Dorsey: We’ll see if he can deliver the bacon.


    My fear is that Dorsey (who is partially rumored to have lost a struggle with Andy Reid) is now walking into professional NFL politician Hue Jackson’s arena after he got done mounting Sashi’s head. There’s no way there aren’t signs all over the walls written with Sashi’s blood.

    I’d love this hire otherwise.


    Everyone needs a dog and one could be trained to deliver sandwiches.

  • JNeids

    His (imaginary) brother Phil has a great name for the porn industry.

  • RGB

    “3) He puts heav emphasis on player heart and that they “play football” (presumably lesser emphasis on combine numbers and pure projection of potential).”

    As long as he actually interviews (ie. vets…) potential draft busts, errrr, picks as part of His Process.
    I’m looking at you Ray.

  • RGB

    Organically? Oh, you mean the first time DePo whines about spending the precious on a shiney new FA.

  • RGB

    #2 All. Day.

  • Dan

    I will have the #2, with a side of the #1. Please hold the #3 and #4. I have two beagles and they are a pain in my ass.

  • Shadow_play


  • mgbode

    Or Josh Allen despite all evidence to the contrary. “Football guys” seem to love him as a prospect.


    Part of that record is having Andy Reid, who, ya know, can actually coach.


    “He was re-signing some of his own draft picks, such as Fisher and Duvernay-Tardif, rather than focusing on the true talent that needed to be secured.”

    At least the WHY CAN’T THE BROWNS GIVE GUYS SECOND CONTRACT?? camp will be sated.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi SP … Yeah , but this one … *smile*

  • tigersbrowns2

    no doubt … but Dorsey helped provide the ingredients …

  • Shadow_play

    I appreciate your enthusiasm TB2, but you have to admit we’ve heard about how important this offseason is for the past (n) Offseasons.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i say that EVERY SINGLE YEAR … but this year i really really really really mean it !! in all seriousness , this is good news & I’m hoping for the best.

  • jpftribe

    Bye Bye Kenny!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Garry_Owen

    Yeah! Even if that guy isn’t qualified at all!! Let’s do this dumb thing!

  • Skulb

    Impulsive and disorganized? He should fit right in then.

  • woofersus

    I’ll add a bullet point:

    Mangini syndrome, where he’s obsessed with his old players and signs the flotsam discarded by the Chiefs and Packers for too much money, (because Browns) and the team enters cap hell right around the time we celebrate that 8-8 season where we “almost make the playoffs.”

  • Petefranklin

    His only draft in Seattle was terrible. Brock Huard in the third. He looked to be third in control of that draft behind Hologram and the VP. Why would he resign? If he wanted to draft other players and was overruled then he would have gotten more credibility the following year right? I think he had his hands all over a lousy draft, and was forced out.

  • scripty

    A few thoughts.
    – No GM is flawless. If Dorsey was perfect and without flaws he’d still be at KC. HOF GM Ozzie Newsome has his share of mistakes as GM. The only GMs with flawless resumes are those on the first day of their jobs
    -It will be if Dorsey can learn from those in the past and be more organized and cap-aware in his extensions. Only time will tell.
    – Really need to see what aides he brings in as asst GMs too.

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