Although general manager Ray Farmer and the Browns have repeatedly denied that owner Jimmy Haslam exerted any influence in the team’s draft room last week, quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains suggests that’s not quite the case. Appearing on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly on ESPN Radio in Arkansas, Loggains said that a text from Johnny Manziel inspired Haslam and the Browns to trade up for him.
“We’re sitting there and they keep showing Johnny on TV,” Loggains said, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “And Johnny and I are texting and he shoots me a text and he says, ‘I wish you guys would come get me. Hurry up and draft me because I want to be there. I want to wreck this league together.’ When I got that text, I forwarded it to the owner and to the head coach (Mike Pettine). I’m like, ‘This guy wants to be here. He wants to be part of it.’ As soon as that happened, Mr. Haslam said, ‘Pull the trigger. We’re trading up to go get this guy.'”
Although the Browns eventually made a deal with the Eagles to move up to the No. 22 spot, the team also talked to the Titans (No. 11) and Cowboys (No. 16), Loggains confirmed. The quarterbacks coach also suggested that the Browns felt they had to get ahead of the Chiefs at No. 23: “We knew they would draft him.”
As for Haslam’s role in making the deal, it certainly sounds like he was very much involved in the decision, even if he didn’t necessarily have to overrule his staff to get it done. Previous reports have suggested that the Eagles had several offers for that 22nd overall pick, and that the Browns only landed the pick after sweetening their proposal to include a third-rounder. Based on Loggains’ comments, it sounds as if Philadelphia may have ended up trading with one of those other clubs had Haslam not provided the push to get something done.