Sashi Brown

Sashi Brown Attempted To Help Browns Find Football Exec?

The Browns were officially without a top decision-maker for less than 12 hours, firing Sashi Brown and hiring John Dorsey on Thursday. That process, though, unfolded for the past several weeks.

And Brown himself might have been part of it. The Browns enlisted the help of Hall of Famers Bill Parcells and Ron Wolf to help land a football executive, Michael Lombardi of The Ringer reports (on Twitter). The former Browns GM added Brown was involved in this process. Lombardi, however, points out Brown thought he would join the new football-based exec instead of being replaced.

Jimmy Haslam appeared to be toying with that notion as well. The owner initially wanted to bring in a football voice to complement Brown rather than replace him, but after research, he decided Brown couldn’t be part of the new equation. Interestingly, Brown lieutenants Paul DePodesta and Andrew Berry will. And each won’t have to report to Dorsey, in a unique arrangement.

Rumors about the Browns searching for execs with stronger football backgrounds came out of Cleveland back in mid-October, and although the Browns denied it, that point in time seems to add up with the five- to six-week search process multiple outlets have reported encompassed this shakeup effort.

Wolf’s involvement is interesting given that he’d played this role before. The former Packers GM has done this at multiple junctures in the past. He served in a consultant role and recommended the hire of Mike Holmgren as team president and also met with Haslam late in 2015, doing so prior to Haslam’s decision to bring in the new-age front office.

Wolf’s son, Packers exec Eliot Wolf, was mentioned as a possible candidate, but it’s clear the Browns were not especially interested in going through traditional channels via offseason interview process to fill this vacancy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Rumors: Jackson, Haslam, Haden

Hue Jackson did not want to confirm a report that he and ousted executive VP Sashi Brown weren’t on speaking terms, but Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports the two had clashed on numerous occasions — and certain players were at the root of this friction. Carson Wentz, Marvin Jones, A.J. McCarron and Jimmy Garoppolo induced disagreements between the Browns’ power structure, as previously reported, but Cabot adds Jackson and Brown were at odds about the likes of Joe Haden, Demario Davis and Jeremy Maclin.

Jackson wanted the Browns to sign Maclin, Cabot reports. They were loosely connected to the UFA wideout, but the Ravens, Bills and Eagles were well ahead of them. Jackson presumably wanted Haden to remain in Cleveland, but the Browns released him. Davis was also shipped back to the Jets and has enjoyed a productive season. Cabot also notes Jackson and Gregg Williams received pushback from some members of the front office in the Myles Garrett-vs.-Mitch Trubisky argument that transpired in April, with the coaches’ side winning out and Garrett being the pick.

Here’s the latest on a busy day in Cleveland.

  • Jimmy Haslam made this move Thursday in order to not fall behind on the GM carousel, Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com reports, adding the owner saw the Giants taking an early lead by landing their former GM Ernie Accorsi to lead a search to replace Jerry Reese. Ownership was “adamant” not to fall behind in this pursuit, per Grossi. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report said during a radio appearance on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland the early Brown firing was to get an early start on a John Dorsey push (Twitter link). The Browns do not have to wait until season’s end to interview Dorsey like they would an active exec, and Miller reports many believe he will be Cleveland’s next GM. Dorsey steered the Chiefs to three playoff berths in four seasons after taking over following a 2-14 season.
  • Haslam was tinkering with the idea to make in-season changes for the past couple of weeks, Albert Breer of SI.com reports, noting the owner was considering bringing in a football voice to complement Brown rather than replace him. But after research, the owner decided to fire Brown and begin a search for his replacement.
  • Both Breer and Grossi confirm the Thursday-afternoon report the Browns are going after Dorsey. Grossi reports Dorsey has been “endorsed heartily” by at least one of the football execs with whom Haslam’s already consulted. Breer notes a Dorsey/Jackson arrangement makes more sense than Brown/Jackson, with the ex-Chiefs GM’s scouting background aligning more with Jackson’s admitted old-school approach to football development. That, and not necessarily his impressive work in Kansas City, made him a key name to watch in Cleveland, Breer notes.
  • A Dorsey hire could well mean a more prominent role for ex-Colts GM Ryan Grigson, Grossi writes. Grigson’s currently working as a senior personnel exec, with an emphasis on scouting. Dorsey and Grigson’s friendship and mutual respect would stand to lead to a better title for the since-fired Indianapolis decision-maker.
  • The Browns’ decision to part with Brown and not Jackson could lead to an increased interest in Josh Rosen. Miller notes. Jackson likes the UCLA quarterback as a prospect, with a source informing the draft-based reporter Rosen is “Jackson’s guy.” Rosen seems more certain to declare for the 2018 draft than Sam Darnold at this juncture.

Sashi Brown Releases Statement On Firing

On Thursday, the Browns sacked top decision maker Sashi Brown with four games to go in the season. In his farewell address to Browns fans, Brown took the high road and also took ownership of the team’s poor performance: Sashi Brown (vertical)

I want this to be real and clear, the way I know Cleveland and Browns fans can appreciate: Our win-loss record since I became executive vice president isn’t going to cut it.

We worked hard. I am so grateful to the people I worked with throughout my four-plus years with the Browns, particularly the people I worked with the past two years. We embarked on a mission to rebuild the Browns for long-term, sustainable success. We were committed and aggressive in our approach, even if unorthodox at times. We made dramatic changes and put in place a foundation on which championships can be built.

Obviously, the Browns have not yet achieved the turnaround we wanted for a franchise and the best fans in the NFL, who deserve it more than any other in sports. I know that turnaround is coming.

I thank Dee and Jimmy and the rest of the Haslam family for taking a chance on me. And when that turnaround happens, wherever I am, I will smile – more than a little bittersweetly – and say, to myself, “Go Browns!

Part of Brown’s unorthodox approach to team-building included a heavy focus on analytics. The team’s next GM may or may not follow in the same path, but we do know that Moneyball guru Paul DePodesta‘s job is safe – for now – along with Vice President of Player Personnel Andrew BerryJohn Dorsey – who leaned on some advanced statistical analysis while with the Chiefs – is said to be among the early candidates for the vacancy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fallout From Browns’ Firing Of Sashi Brown

Hue Jackson‘s play calling has often been criticized, but so far he has held off on hiring an offensive coordinator. Why’s that? Jackson told reporters on Thursday that he didn’t want to hire an OC with a bad offense and make him take the fall (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer). However, he says it’s possible that he will hire one for 2018.

Here’s the latest out of Cleveland following the firing of top exec Sashi Brown:

  • Brown was not on speaking terms with Jackson over the past month or so, sources tell Cabot.
  • The Browns say that Jackson will return in 2018, but some in league circles believe that might not be the case if the Browns finish 0-16, Mike Florio of PFT writes. Owner Jimmy Haslam going back on his promise might not be ideal, but Florio argues that the team will be open to ridicule regardless with a 1-31 record over the last two years.
  • Brown knew his job was in jeopardy and met with Haslam recently to discuss it, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. At the time, Brown was told that no decisions had been made.
  • When asked if he’ll want to have personnel control going forward, Jackson said that he wants to be in concert with those making the decisions (Twitter link via Rapoport).
  • Jackson hopes that the team’s next regime can tighten up some of its loose lips. “This has been a leaky place for years. Hopefully some of that stuff will go away in time,” Jackson said (Twitter link via Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan).
  • Fun fact: The Browns’ last win on a Sunday was Dec. 13, 2015, when Johnny Manziel led them to a 24-10 win over the Niners, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Fire VP Sashi Brown

The Browns have fired their top decision maker. Sashi Brown has been relieved of his duties, the team announced on Thursday morning. However, coach Hue Jackson will return in 2018. Sashi Brown (vertical)

We have great appreciation and gratitude for Sashi’s commitment and leadership to our organization but believe transitioning to someone with strong experience and success in drafting and building consistently winning football teams is critical to the future of the Cleveland Browns. Today we informed Sashi that we were going in a new direction. The 2018 draft and offseason is pivotal for our franchise, we need to ensure that we maximize our opportunity for success; with our picks, free agency and building our roster. Hue Jackson will remain our coach and will return for the 2018 season but we feel it is necessary to take significant steps to strengthen our personnel department. We have begun the process of having productive conversations regarding leadership of our football operations and will provide further updates when appropriate. We thank Sashi for all his hard work and dedication to the Cleveland Browns.”

The Browns are 0-12 and 1-27 over the last two seasons. Some sort of shakeup was expected, though not necessarily before the end of the season. It’s possible that the Browns were motivated to get a head start on their GM search after the Giants sacked Jerry Reese earlier this week. Their next hire will be their ninth GM since returning to Cleveland in 1999.

Meanwhile, the Browns will hold off on hiring their tenth coach since returning to Cleveland. Jackson was brought to Cleveland for his offensive acumen, leadership, and positive energy. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to demonstrate much of that with a lackluster roster. The good news for Jackson is that even if his team goes 0-16 this year, he will return for next season.

Brown was hired as the Browns’ executive vice president/general counsel in January of 2013 and was promoted to executive vice president of football operations in January of 2016. He took an unorthodox approach to team building, one that has yet to bear any fruit in Cleveland. However, he did leave the team with lots of cap room and draft capital to work with, so the team’s next GM may be in a position to succeed – provided that he can break the team’s longstanding curse.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Notes: Gordon, Thomas, McCarron, Hue, Currie

On the heels of his reinstatement into the NFL, Josh Gordon detailed his extensive drug use and recovery in a revealing Q&A with GQ.

In the piece, Gordon admits he was a highly functioning addict who would drink “a couple shots” before games, including his back-to-back 200-yard performances during his standout 2013 campaign. Gordon said his drug use began in the seventh grade with marijuana and Xanax, and he believes he has had something in his system for every game of his career.

When asked why his recovery this time is different, the receiver said, “Every time I would try to stop, it would be for the wrong reason. … Last time, I wanted to do it to save my career. Just for the job. [Now] I have the positive reinforcement and motivation of having a daughter and stuff like that, but kids can’t save you in that aspect. Only thing saving me at this point and time, and the difference between now and then, is that I’m doing it for myself. And I want something more for myself.”

Gordon will be allowed to begin practicing with the Browns on November 20, with the hopes of getting back on the field for the team’s Week 13 matchup with the Chargers.

Here is the latest from Cleveland:

  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson issued no comment on his relationship with the front office when addressing reporters, including 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland’s Keith Britton (via Twitter), on Monday. The comment stemmed from the team’s fiasco in attempting to acquire A.J. McCarron from the Bengals and executive vice president Sashi Brown‘s comments earlier in the day. Brown also noted the botched deal for the quarterback made last week a tough one from a public relations perspective, Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets.
  • It occurred to some with the Browns during the McCarron talks that Jackson could be back in Cincinnati next season with the team’s second- and third-round picks from the deal, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets. Whether Jackson is with the Bengals or another team, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the coach looking for another job after winning just one of his first 23 games in Cleveland.
  • Brown also said the raise to Joe Thomas had been talked about before the veteran’s injury, the Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich tweets. As previously mentioned, Thomas was given $3MM in new money last week.
  • Safety Justin Currie has a workout scheduled for Friday, the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Signed to the Browns’ practice squad in December 2016, the Western Michigan product was released in the preseason and has yet to sign with another team.

Browns’ Sashi Brown On Blown Trade, Future

Teams like the Bills and 49ers made headlines last week after pulling off blockbuster trades. The Browns, meanwhile, were in the spotlight for the deal they did not make. Despite verbally agreeing to acquire quarterback A.J. McCarron from the Bengals, the Browns failed to file the proper paperwork before the 4pm ET/3pm CT trade deadline.

Did the Browns intentionally scuttle the deal? On Monday afternoon, top executive Sashi Brown discussed the the would-be swap and much more (transcript via Nate Ulrich of the Akron-Beacon Journal):

On whether the paperwork mishap was deliberate:

It’s wholly untrue. I think we were all in there together, Hue, myself and a couple other staff members that work on these things at the time we were trying to get the trade done. So I’m not worried about that internally, externally. I can just put it to bed. That’s just not the case. Nothing we would ever do. To try to make up a trade to sabotage a trade just wouldn’t make any sense. Sashi Brown (vertical)

This is just a matter of getting to a deal too late in the process. Both Cincinnati and us tried our damnedest to try to get the paperwork in at the last minute. We’re talking about minutes and seconds before the trade deadline ended. We were on the phone with the NFL at the time to try to make it happen. It did not happen. I do think Cincinnati in earnest tried. I know we did everything humanly possible to get it done. It just didn’t happen.

On whether the botched deal will result in his firing:

I don’t [worry about it costing me my job]. I think we’re in good communication with both Dee and Jimmy [Haslam] on these things, and they’re well apprised of what we’re doing and why and how things come together. I think they’ve seen our track record in terms of being able to perform and pull off some of the more creative deals in the league and a host of just simple, straightforward transactions, whether they’re in the season or on draft day. So I don’t [have that concern]. I think they understand that we’ve been as aggressive as any team trying to churn this roster and improve it.

On whether he has been assured of his return for 2018:

No, it wouldn’t be a conversation that I would have, either. I think the most important thing for us to do is really stay focused on our task at hand. We’ve got eight [games left] this year. Our [players] have been resilient and focused. I think you’d expect no less from the front office and the coaching staff, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Luck, Fournette, Watson

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) says no one is exactly sure what the future holds for Colts QB Andrew Luck, who was recently placed on IR and ruled out for the remainder of the year. Per Rapoport, Luck has met with at least four doctors and has been advised that he should not throw for two to three months, though surgery is not in the cards at this point. Rapoport says all indications are that Luck will be healthy for the start of 2018, but Alex Marvez of Sporting News is not so optimistic. Because of the way the Colts publicly handled the situation, Marvez does not put much stock in reports that Luck will be ready to go by the start of 2018 — especially since he still cannot throw without soreness 10 months after surgery — and he says Indianapolis is facing the possibility of Luck never playing again at a high level and being on the hook for $87 million in salary guaranteed against injury. Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets that Luck will be reevaluated in December, and that the Colts are “not ignoring” the 2018 QB draft class.

On that sobering note, let’s take a look at more rumors from around the AFC:

  • The Colts claim that cornerback Vontae Davis is out for today’s game due to non-injury reasons, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears that is actually a cover-up for the fact that the Colts have not disclosed Davis’ lingering groin injury in recent weeks. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star says there is more to Davis’ absence than the team is letting on, but he believes Davis’ absence is due to personal reasons and is not injury-related.
  • Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette was deactivated for today’s game against the Bengals, and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweets that the star rookie missed treatment, a workout, and a team photo this week, which led to his benching. Head coach Doug Marrone is clearly trying to change the culture in Jacksonville, though Jags fans have to hope it doesn’t come at the expense of the team’s playoff push.
  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Texans QB Deshaun Watson is expected to miss eight to nine months as a result of his ACL tear, though the last time he tore his ACL, he missed only five months, so Houston is hopeful for a shorter timeline.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says Broncos QB Paxton Lynch is under consideration to start in the team’s Week 10 matchup against New England, but Mike Klis of 9News.com says (via Twitter) that report is inaccurate. Klis reports that Lynch is not yet physically ready and that Brock Osweiler will keep the job if he plays well.
  • As La Canfora writes in a separate piece, there are some Browns coaches who believe GM Sashi Brown intentionally scuttled the team’s near trade for A.J. McCarron, presumably because he believed the cost (a second- and third-round draft choice) was too high. Even if Brown is right about that, his efforts to intentionally sabotage the trade represent a massive breach of protocol and will only intensify the much-discussed rift between the team’s coaching staff and front office. But even if Brown did not act duplicitously, and even if the botched trade was simply due to human error, the fact that the coaching staff thinks Brown intentionally nixed the deal suggests things have gone beyond the point of no return in Cleveland.

Browns Ownership Goes “Nuclear” On Front Office After Trade Mishap

The biggest story from a loaded trade deadline is looking like it was a deal that didn’t happen. Both of Ohio’s NFL teams are dealing with the fallout, one far more than the other.

A disconnect between the Browns’ front office and the coaching staff has long been reported, but now ownership has stepped in after the front office appears to have bungled a trade for Bengals backup quarterback A.J. McCarron. Specifically, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports Dee Haslam went “nuclear” on the Browns’ front office on Wednesday.

The Bengals would have sent McCarron to Cleveland for second- and third-round draft choices, but several reports have noted the Browns did not send in the necessary paperwork in time. McCarron remains a Bengal, and this latest report lends further weight to the Browns having made a seminal mistake on Tuesday.

Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports the Browns contacted the Bengals on Tuesday morning about McCarron’s availability, and the Bengals lowered their asking price to second- and third-round picks. Mike Brown and Sashi Brown were on the phone at around 2:10pm CT, with the latter attempting to convince the Bengals boss to drop the asking price. Mike Brown, per Terrell, held firm by saying this was a good price for an intra-division trade. Terrell adds the Browns then pointed out the 49ers’ deal to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo — who was viewed as a higher-end Cleveland target than McCarron this offseason — only took a second-round pick, prompting Mike Brown to repeat his stance about not being in business of assisting a division rival.

Mike Brown, per Terrell, told Sashi Brown to call back in a few minutes after thinking over the deal. But a call from the Browns saying they would accept the deal didn’t come until 45 minutes later, with around five minutes to the deadline.

The Bengals scrambled to get the paperwork in but managed to send their documentation to the league, with Terrell adding an email coming from Sashi Brown’s assistant — the unfamiliar name on the email adding to the confusion — went unnoticed during this frenzy. Noting teams often check with each other to see if they receive pivotal emails of this sort, Terrell adds this did not happen during the accelerated process.

However, Terrell notes the Bengals having seen this email wouldn’t have mattered since the Browns needed to send signed documentation to the NFL as well.

All you have to do is notify the league office you are making a deal. That’s an easy thing,” Marvin Lewis said, via Terrell, who reports the Bengals did have a league rep on the phone while they were completing the agreement. “We spoke to a person in there.”

A league source informed Terrell there’s uncertainty about the Browns’ intent on making this trade, adding that there might have been a disconnect between the front office and coaching staff regarding this transaction. The source pointed out how much time elapsed between Mike Brown-Sashi Brown phone conversations as evidence. This comes after cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reported Hue Jackson was on board with this trade Tuesday.

Florio reports seven teams have told PFT the Browns and Bengals should have separately contacted the NFL about the terms of this trade.

Only requirement is for both clubs to separately notify the league office via email of trade terms. If trade terms match, deal done,” a source emailed Florio. “No need to sign paperwork and submit prior. Have 15 days to submit trade papers (with terms that identically match emails).”

These latest revelations figure to add to what’s been one of the more dysfunctional setups in recent NFL memory. And with the 0-8 Browns (1-23 since this new regime began work) considering personnel changes, this will not help convince ownership this arrangement can continue as is.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Rift Between Browns’ Execs, Coach

Publicly, all of the Browns’ key players are saying the right things. But, with more and more stories coming out about discord between coach Hue Jackson and team brass, it’s apparent that something isn’t right in Cleveland. Hue Jackson (Vertical)

[RELATED: Browns To Start DeShone Kizer]

Jackson came to the Browns prior to the 2016 season with a vow to win right off of the bat and said the team would not rebuild, but “retool.” With that in mind, Jackson and his staff were miffed this offseason when the Browns shipped linebacker Demario Davis back to the Jets and released cornerback Joe HadenMary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com hears.

Through six weeks, Davis is third in the NFL in tackles with 53. Haden, meanwhile, is playing quality football with the Steelers. The Browns, still searching for their first win heading into Sunday’s game against the Titans, could use some players like that.

The rift between the coaching staff and the front office could result in a shakeup at the executive level, though the Browns deny reports of shopping for executives. Peyton Manning‘s name has come up as a potential GM candidate for the Browns, but Cabot hears that the QB’s recent trip to Cleveland was not for the purpose of discussing the job.

If Manning – a good friend of owner Jimmy Haslam – winds up as the team’s next GM, the Browns still might want to surround him with experienced execs. The Browns are currently guided by Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown (effectively the GM), Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta, and Vice President of Player Personnel Andrew Berry. None of those three have a track record of assembling a winning football team and DePodesta’s background is in a different sport entirely.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.