Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Oct 2017

Browns Bungle Barter with Bengals

This story is so unbelievable I wanted it verified from multiple sources before I put up an XP. Well, here we are.

As originally reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and since confirmed elsewhere, the Cleveland Browns had reached a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals to acquire quarterback A.J. McCarron. The deal was made five minutes before the league's trade deadline, and the Bengals promptly submitted the deal to the NFL. The Browns, however, did not. Some reports have said the Browns staff was so busy celebrating the deal they neglected to finalize it. Regardless, the deadline passed. The Browns then appealed to the league to let the deal go through, and the league said no, that's not how this works, perhaps sending them a link to this page.

The Bengals would have received second- and third-round picks in next year's draft in the trade.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 31 Oct 2017

46 comments, Last at 12 Nov 2017, 10:12am by jtr


by TADontAsk :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 6:45pm

They screwed the Bengals up with their incompetence too. Seems like it would have been a nice haul for McCarron, considering Cleveland's draft spot.

by D2K :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 7:02pm

Such a Browns thing to do.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 7:03pm

From a comedic standpoint, this far surpasses the Elvis Dumerville balky fax machine or the Vikings failing to submit their draft pick.

by andrew :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 10:43am

The vikings not turning in their draft card in 2003 didn't hurt them.

They had the #7 pick, but when they didn't turn it in:

Jacksonville (#8) raced up and turned in a card for QB Byron Leftwich. The vikings had Daunte Culpepper in near MVP form at the time, they were not gonna take Leftwich.

Carolina (#9) turned in a card for OT Jonathan Gross. The vikings had no intent to take an offensive lineman.

The Vikings then turned in their card for the guy they wanted all along, DT Kevin Williams.

Leftwich started for 4 years in Jacksonville, then bounced around the league for another 6.
Gross had a good career (3 pro bowls, played until 2014).

Williams was an 11 year starter for the Vikings, made 6 pro bowls, made the 2000s all decade team, and then played for two more teams before retiring after 2015.

In theory you could argue the vikings knew the others were not gonna take the guy they wanted and then let it slip to slot William's contract as a lower draft pick. In theory someone was not gonna trade with Jax or Carolina given the rush to get in cards.

But it generally is still viewed as an embarrassment, especially given that the year before, they had missed a chance to pass the Chiefs who were late turning in their card, and both KC and Minnesota wanted Ryan Sims who did go to the Chiefs. That one also worked out okay, as Sims is generally viewed as a draft bust while McKinnie was a solid if not great tackle on the Vikings line for 5 years then declined for another (among other things he allowed the sack that ended Farve's career), then played for the Ravens on their last superbowl team.

So perhaps, through no fault of their own, this will work out okay. In five years when Kizer is a pro bowler and McCaron is out of the league.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 11/02/2017 - 7:56pm

This is the first I've heard of the Sims thing!

by Cythammer :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 7:27pm

Welp, that might ensure this is the last time any analytics guys get to run an FO. Geez.

by James-London :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 7:35pm

The Brownsiest thing the Browns could do, especially if the celebration was the reason for the delay. It's the Browns so it has to be true

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by herewegobrownie... :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 9:11pm

Whatever the case is with what exactly happened and why, this story is consistent with other reports of prior "dissention in the front office ranks" with how Hue reportedly wanted DeShaun Watson.

The question is, have we reached a tipping point where, given who would want to have the black mark of the likely risk of only 1-2 years with the team, it finally would be clearly detrimental to fire the front office this time around, and go through the corresponding likely player changes?

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 8:13pm

Wow all that for AJ McCaron????

Ok I'm done defending the browns front office.

by NoraDaddy :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 9:01pm

I officially don't understand trade value. How is Ajayi only worth a late 4th but McCaron worth an early 2nd and 3rd?

by Sixknots :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 10:16pm

Well, QB worth way more than RB, but AJ McCaron??? No, just no!

by herewegobrownie... :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 10:44pm

Well, Trent Richardson was once worth a 1st that was projected, and ended up, in the early-to-mid 20s, just before the league could figure out that he wasn't any good. Didn't hurt his trade value that his original #3 overall pick money was heavily frontloaded.

I haven't heard, have the 2nd & 3rd rounders actually been proven or is this agentspeak/fake news/merely discussed between the teams as negotiated possibilities? T-Rich/Ajayi/Garoppolo trades are realities, whereas this may be the latter.

On that note, the Lombardi/Banner 2013 Browns were rumored to, for instance, have considered trading the #6 pick for Ryan Mallett, which sounds preposterous - even if he is more valuable to most any team than using the pick for Barkevious Mingo.

Banner himself claimed to also have a Josh Gordon-for-a-2nd trade ready but got vetoed by Haslam. Hindsight, hindsight...

by ddoubleday :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 5:58pm

Just comparing QBs, it seems strange that Jimmy G. would go for only a 2nd, but it would take more to get McCarron. Maybe they offered that to the Pats and Belichick wouldn't do that to Garopollo (or however it's spelled) LOL

by Thok :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 8:52am

Is it even clear that McCarron is a better QB than Kaepernick, who the Browns could literally just sign right now? (I'm aware Kaepernick would be more expensive, but the Browns are so far below the salary floor that it probably doesn't matter. And the Browns have already done the flag protest thing, so that argument is mostly irrelevant as well.)

by Richie :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 2:56pm

Hue Jackson worked with McCarron in Cincinnati, so he knows how good McCarron is.

That theory has worked pretty well in Miami, to the tune of a 4-2 record, where Gase signed Jay Cutler, based on their relationship in Chicago. (Ducking)

by ChrisS :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 10:15am

That is a lot of draft value for McCarron. It is probably a good thing for the Browns the trade did not go through. Saved by their own incompetence.

by Lebo :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 12:21pm


by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 12:24pm

I thought of a line from this season's Legends of Tomorrow; "Sometimes we screw things up for the better."

by OldFox :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 5:17pm

I agree; the Browns are lucky that the deal didn't happen. They would have been giving up WAY too much for McCarron.

My take is that Hue Jackson is afraid he'll get fired if he goes 0-16 (a reasonable fear) so he's desperate to bring in a semi-competent QB to help him win a game or two, which he figures will save his job. But looking at it from anyone else's point of view, who cares if the Browns go 0-16 as opposed to 1-15? Either way it's a miserable season, so why throw away draft picks to gain a mediocre QB who might win you one or two unimportant games? Sure, those games are important to Hue, but not to anybody else. The smarter play is to take your medicine, hold onto your picks and draft some actual good football players. (For that matter, most likely the Browns will have the #1 pick and can take a really good QB, at which point McCarron would be excess baggage anyway. So why throw away draft choices for him?)

It does bother me however that the Browns come away from this mess looking inept, disorganized and downright incompetent, especially since it's possible that all three of those things might very well be true.

by theslothook :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 6:45pm

The browns front office is supposed to be driven by "analytics", which in theory is meant to mean you avoid these kinds of moves. The fact that they are doing this makes them lose all credibility in my eyes. The incompetence part is just icing on the cake.

by Theo :: Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:42am

Well, the best way forward for the Browns is to figure out what they want to do - and then do the exact opposite.

by LyleNM :: Fri, 11/03/2017 - 12:46pm

They should just put George Costanza on their helmets.

by Theo :: Fri, 11/03/2017 - 2:40pm

Got that right.

They wouldn't have had a HOF left tackle for the past decade, but they'd at least be stable at the front office, head coach, quarterback and would have steered away from obvious major red flags in the draft.
I don't know how many wins that would've given them, but I think more than an average 5-11 season since they came back into the league.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 11/03/2017 - 3:16pm

As a franchise, they certainly are the NFL's version of that guy that can't hold a job, lives with his parents, and simply can't get his life together despite his best efforts.

by theslothook :: Sat, 11/04/2017 - 12:38am

In all seriousness, it's hard to fathom how this malaise has continued across multiple GM's, coaches, and even owners. Is there a vodoo doll haunting the browns???

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sat, 11/04/2017 - 4:54am

Dysfunctional always seeks dysfunctional. It begins to feel very uncomfortable when faced with the voice of reason.

When you face a dysfunctional organisation or leader with good, organised people; the dysfunctional either doesn't listen, overrides, or undermines them. Eventually the good people leave or get fired for pathetic reasons.

Why it's happened across owners ... could just be bad luck or it could be that the previous owner only felt comfortable selling to another with a similar outlook/attitude to life ...

by Cythammer :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 10:44pm

Now the reports are that the story of the Browns celebrating as the deadline passed are false.

by jackiel :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:51pm

It's now official. Everyone associated with the football side of things in Cleveland should be fired immediately. They pass on taking a QB at the top of draft in consecutive years in order to stockpile picks, end up drafting Kessler with the intention of allowing him to compete for the starting job in 2016, give the job to an over 35 Josh McCown in 2016, let McCown walk in free agency in 2017, draft a raw Kizer in 2017, name Kizer the starter for 2017 even though he still needs a lot of seasoning, and bench Kizer less than halfway through the season due to ineffectiveness in favor of Hogan thereby making Kessler the 3rd QB on the depth chart. After all that, they conclude that none of their QBs are any good so they decide to hand over real value for McCarron at the trade deadline - only for the trade to fall through because they didn't file their paperwork on time. This is incompetence of the highest order.

The worst part about this is that it confirms once and for all that nothing they're doing is working - scouting, coaching, roster construction, organizational philosophy. If it was, then Hue wouldn't have been able to pull the same move that he pulled in Oakland when he traded for Palmer after Jason Campbell got hurt. That was a clear panic move to get a guy he was comfortable with instead of trusting that he could develop Campbell's backup - one that got him fired. This one is worse because he had a hand in selecting every QB on the Browns roster! If they all stink, then that's on him as the head of the offense. The fact that the Browns front office indulged his desperate McCarron demand tells me that the whole organization is broken.

by billprudden :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 12:35pm

"...he had a hand in selecting every QB on the Browns roster"

Do we know this?

And if "a hand" is 49% of the leverage, well...

by jackiel :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 1:20pm

Do you honestly believe that teams make a practice of bringing in players that the coaches don’t want?

by billprudden :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 4:58pm

Yes, yes I do.

by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 5:48pm

As a Bills fan, yes, yes I do. ;)

by RickD :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 6:15pm

The Patriots did that to Bill freakin' Parcells when they drafted Terry Glenn.

Unless a coach specifically has last say on personnel (Belichick and maybe nobody else right now?) there's always going to be somebody else who might just want to validate his job.

And we're talking about the Browns here.

by apk3000 :: Thu, 11/02/2017 - 12:35pm

I'm positive that if you gave former Redskins head coaches truth serum, they would name several folks foisted upon them by Dan Snyder.

by apk3000 :: Thu, 11/02/2017 - 12:35pm

I'm positive that if you gave former Redskins head coaches truth serum, they would name several folks foisted upon them by Dan Snyder.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 11/02/2017 - 8:06pm

Hm does the popcorn emoji work here? (Edit: no)

This whole thread has been hilarious!

by jackiel :: Sat, 11/04/2017 - 6:02pm

I disagree about this one. Jackson is the one with the most information about McCarron - a guy who's barely played in his NFL career. I don't know why the Browns FO would send over multiple picks for him if Jackson thinks he's a poor fit.

by Theo :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 9:17am

Apparently the Browns signature was missing on the paperwork that the Bengals sent.
This, with the handling of the qb room tells me Hue Jacksin is in over his head. He is the HC/OC now... he should get an OC asap.
He and the front office should be on the same page. They pass on qbs in the draft but get a lot of picks out of it to build the team. I understand the reasoning, but the HC should agree on it.
It will take a few more seasons until the Browns will stop being Brown.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 10:54am


The Cleveland Browns are not an NFL franchise. The Cleveland Browns are a brilliantly subtle comedic performance art troupe, and one day their genius will be recognized.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 12:29pm

Amazingly, with better continuity than Saturday Night Live

by jtr :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 1:13pm

It sure is a great time to be a lightly-exposed backup QB. McCarron and Garoppolo have 5 starts between the two of them, which means that besides three-year-old college tape, they're mostly a blank slate for front offices to project their dreams onto. Traditionally, fever-dream projections of stardom for unknown backup QB's have been reserved for the fans, but now apparently NFL GM's do it too.

by BJR :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 5:58pm

*Mike Glennon and his agent nod*

by ArcLight :: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 9:56pm


We were lucky.

We were too drunk to shoot ourselves in the foot.

I have 3 questions:

1) what franchise QB will the Browns pass over in the 2018 draft?

2) what QB bust will they select this year?

3) they don't have room on their roster for all their prior QB busts so what do they do with them? Cut them after 2 years? It would be interesting in one of them develops into an average starter. Not great, but average.

by erniecohen :: Thu, 11/02/2017 - 10:44am

The confusion about who should do what was really quite understandable when you consider that Mike Brown was negotiating with Sashi Brown of the Browns.

by Richie :: Thu, 11/02/2017 - 1:35pm


by jtr :: Sun, 11/12/2017 - 10:12am

More in Dumb Browns trade news: it's just come out that the Browns tried to trade for Terelle Pryor prior to the deadline but couldn't work out a deal. Of course, this comes just half a season after they could have kept him if they had just been willing to free up $3M/yr of their SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS in cap space. One has to wonder if Kizer wouldn't be showing more signs of life if the Browns had bothered keeping Pryor around instead of letting him walk for no reason.