Browns Out-Brown Themselves

NFL trade deadline is usually pretty boring. Not much happens. Maybe a guy or two gets moved for a low pick, but that’s usually about it. Until this year.

In the last month alone, we’ve had Adrian Peterson, Duane Brown, Marcell Dareus, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jay Ajayi moved. Then we had Houston’s Jeremy Lane failing a physical and going back to being Seattle’s Jeremy Lane. Then Carolina shipped Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo for two picks. Cam Newton clearly wasn’t happy about that, posting a pic of himself and Benjamin on instagram with the caption: “Some things you will never understand! Damn I miss my dogs!”

And no, losers, he’s not making a fat joke. He’s not saying that Benjamin stole his hot dogs or ate his actual dogs. Grow up. I’m not interested in your takes on how the Bills “super-sized” their receiving corps.

But as weird as that trade was, nothing will top the Cleveland Browns trading for A.J. McCarron from the Bengals. Well, actually, they didn’t exactly trade for him. They agreed a trade with Cincinnati, but it never actually went through because they didn’t get the paperwork to the league office before the 4pm deadline. And I know what you’re thinking before you think it, OH MY GOD THIS IS NOT HAPPENING!!!!

Oh, it is happening. And the question is, how did it happen? How did the Browns out-Brown themselves again?

Let’s unpack this a little, shall we?

According to reports, the Browns had agreed to send a second and third round pick to Cincinnati for McCarron. Forget for a moment that a second and third is more than San Francisco gave up to get Jimmy Garoppolo, who is a better quarterback. Cleveland’s justification for giving up more to get less is thought to be that McCarron has a friendlier contract. Okay, sure, I’ll buy that. Whatever. It’s kind of irrelevant what his contract was or is because they couldn’t complete the deal. And why couldn’t they?

Because according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, “multiple sources said that the Bengals emailed their signed paperwork to the NFL before 4 p.m. and the Browns did not. The Bengals also copied the Browns on the signed document they emailed to the NFL. Several league sources told cleveland.com that separate documents from each team — signed only by that team — constitutes a trade. Bottom line: The league never received anything with the Browns’ signature on it.”

A reasonable person might think, how is this possible? How could you possibly screw up the paperwork of a trade? Surely that’s the easiest part of the deal and the easiest part of your job. To which I would say, have you seen the Cleveland Browns?

Oh, and then there’s this: “A league source with knowledge of the Browns’ sequence of events told cleveland.com that the Browns emailed a signed trade agreement to the Bengals and expected them to also sign it and send it to the NFL.”

Did they think they were completing a trade or participating in a chain letter? Who is running the Browns front office? Professional football executives or your grandmother who forwards insanely long email threads about conspiracy theories?

Wasn’t part of the re-branding of the Browns front office that they had a bunch of Ivy League guys in there? And now they can’t figure out how to process paperwork? No wonder Hue Jackson was pissed the other day about the Garoppolo deal.

All of this raises a number of questions: do the Browns actually not know what they’re doing? Or do they know what they’re doing and someone in the front office didn’t want to actually make the trade? Incompetence or sabotage? And knowing the Browns, can anyone tell the difference?

Seriously, based on their track record, how could you really know if they were trying to screw it up or if they did it accidentally? They’ve been so terrible at every other part of their jobs, there’s no way to know.

So not only did they bungle the trade for McCarron, but by attempting to make the deal and failing to make it, they’ve sent a strong message to DeShone Kizer that they don’t believe in him. Nicely done, Browns. You not only didn’t get a new quarterback, but you further damaged the situation with your current quarterback. How very Cleveland of you.

Sure, there’s a possibility that in all this finger-pointing, the Bengals are really the ones to blame. That’s possible, but that would also mean giving the Browns the benefit of the doubt and have you really seen anything that would make that seem like they deserve the benefit of the doubt?

I feel for you, C-town. I’m not even going to add this to the list of terrible things that have happened to you. We don’t need to recap that list. You already know that by heart. You deserve better than this. Unfortunately, you’re not going to get better than this any time soon.  The Browns truly are an embarrassment. To themselves. To you. And to the entire league. And you deserve a helluva lot better. Maybe they’ll move again.

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