Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer 16d

Botched paperwork caps embarrassing two days for Browns

To say this has been quite a couple of days for the Cleveland Browns is like saying the 1906 earthquake shook up San Francisco.

In stunning fashion, the Browns first watched as the New England Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for an offer the Browns easily could -- and should -- have topped.

The next day, the Browns agreed to a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals for backup AJ McCarron that had them sending second- and third-round picks to the Bengals. Except the trade was not submitted on time. So the deal was not approved.

That means the Browns now have traded picks that could have been Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, did not make a trade for Garoppolo and then did make a trade for McCarron only to negate the deal by screwing up the paperwork.

To which I ask a question I've asked countless times before: Does this happen with other teams?

In no particular order I offer:

  • The paperwork drama obscures that the Browns' search for a quarterback led them to give up two draft picks for McCarron. In the discussions of quarterback play and potential, McCarron is considered a nice player but not someone with the potential of a Wentz, Jared Goff or Garoppolo. Though he had a nice stretch at the end of 2015, he's not shown the talent of a Watson. The last time McCarron played was '15, and he averaged 7.2 yards per attempt. Cody Kessler averaged 7.1 for the Browns last season. A team devoid of quality play at the most important position on the team turned to ... McCarron?

  • Yet the Browns were willing to give up two of their prized draft picks to get him. The need for a quarterback has been no secret for months. If the Browns wanted McCarron this badly, why in the heck did they wait until the last day and last minutes to complete any deal?

  • Was this deal and ensuing confusion a reaction to not getting Garoppolo? Did the Browns overreact on one deal because they were caught off guard on another? These sure seem like fair questions.

  • As for the paperwork, something stinks in Peoria. And Lakewood. And Cleveland Heights. And Berea. Sashi Brown is a former legal counsel. He handled paperwork and contracts and had to be aware of all league requirements. This is a Harvard-educated front office, for crying out loud. To have any kind of chaos on this trade, any kind of botched submission simply stinks in a skunk-ish kind of way. If the deal is completed at 3:55 p.m. and you like the deal, you do everything you have to do to make sure everything is submitted on time. That the Browns didn't is one more embarrassment on a pile of embarrassments that is starting to look like Mount Vesuvius.

  • The Bengals told cleveland.com on Tuesday that they submitted their paperwork, that they never received anything signed from the Browns and that the Browns didn't submit their paperwork. The website also reported that the Bengals copied the Browns on their submissions. On Wednesday, the Bengals told various news outlets it found an email from the Browns, but it arrived just before the deadline while they were filing their paperwork. The Browns never submitted paperwork on their own.

  • There seems to be a feeling that the Browns simply did not want to complete the deal because they didn't want to give up their draft picks. The Browns will have to answer this at some point -- you hope they will answer it at some point -- but filing paperwork is not complex. Teams have the paperwork. If a deal is close, they are prepared. Once it's agreed to, they submit it.

  • This also makes a pretty clear statement about DeShone Kizer. The Browns were willing to part with golden draft picks for a backup not considered elite. The logic would be that McCarron knows coach Hue Jackson's offense and could step in right away and maybe win a couple of games to erase some of the stench of losing. That would put Kizer on the sidelines. The Browns may feel that Kizer has a brilliant future in Cleveland, but clearly his accuracy and turnovers had become too much, at least for the short term.

  • As for Garoppolo: If the Browns weren't aware he was back on the market, they failed. It's their job to know these things and to act on them. There are a lot of theories out there about why Patriots coach Bill Belichick sent him to San Francisco -- among them that he could get a backup he knew and liked in Brian Hoyer once he traded his own backup -- but the bottom line is this: It's the Browns' job to be aware what is happening. If they were in the least interested in Garoppolo, they had to be aware.

  • The claim that Belichick would not trade Garoppolo to the Browns because he was mad they fired him holds water like a colander. Belichick is driven by winning. To think he'd have turned down the lower of the Browns' two first-round picks and perhaps a fourth-round pick (a fair price) for Garoppolo because he was mad at the Browns ... that's just ludicrous. He'd have taken the best offer. Clearly the 49ers were his best offer, because the Browns didn't know or didn't try to make their best offer.

  • Kyle Shanahan has admitted that prior to the 2014 draft, when he was the Browns' offensive coordinator, he favored Derek Carr and Garoppolo. Others in the front office also favored Carr. Former Browns GM Ray Farmer was said to have favored Teddy Bridgewater. The Browns took Johnny Manziel, then wasted two years and sabotaged their own season that started 7-4 in trying to see if he could play. They have now wasted two more years trying to find the guy who will take his place.

There is no apparent solution on the horizon, either, which means another year or perhaps two will be spent spinning through the slog that has become the Cleveland Browns.

Meanwhile, Wentz and Watson are the talk of the league, and Garoppolo is in San Francisco.

The Browns' solution: McCarron. Until he wasn't.

Has any of this ever happened with other teams?

^ Back to Top ^