Browns Bungle A.J. McCarron Trade With Bengals


The 0-8 Browns were already a mess, with no stability at QB, a coach who is 1-23 in Cleveland, and reported backroom discord. So after Tuesday, is there even a word to describe the organization—at least one that doesn’t include profanity? Here’s what we know. The Browns and Bengals seem to have agreed on a deal that would have sent backup Bengals QB A.J. McCarron (whom Hue Jackson has liked since his time in Cincy) to Cleveland just before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline. According to Adam Schefter, the trade was agreed upon at 3:55 p.m., and Cincinnati sent the requisite paperwork to the league shortly thereafter. But the Browns, well, dropped the ball, failing to properly notify NFL headquarters. reports that the Browns sent the paperwork to Cincinnati, expecting the Bengals to forward it to the league offices. Schefter reported that the team lobbied for the trade to still be accepted, but the Browns lost . . . again. Oy vey.

The highly educated members of Cleveland’s front office still deserved a modicum of trust in their ability to accrue badets and build through the draft, despite the current results on the field. But this latest debacle calls into question the management’s ability to function competently. Let’s be clear: there’s a high chance McCarron would not have solved the Browns’ long-running QB problems had he been acquired. In fact, if the trade had gone through, we might have looked back on it in a couple years (or weeks) and wonder why Cleveland gave up so much. The only main selling point for the Cincy backup over someone like Jimmy Garoppolo is that McCarron comes with a more team-friendly deal. But not completing the trade this way harms rookie DeShone Kizer‘s relationship with his bosses and shatters any cause for confidence in and around Berea, Ohio. Plus, given the franchise’s luck, watch McCarron now go on to find a starring role elsewhere.

With half of the year to go, there’s only one question left: How will the Browns screw up next?

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Conor Orr grades the big deadline deals … Jonathan Jones picks winners and losers of the past few days … Albert Breer focuses on the Ohio State D-line in his college column … and more. 

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Kalyn Kahler puts together an oral history of Cowboys quarterbacks … Peter King’s mailbag … and more. Stay tuned.


1. There were still two notable moves before Tuesday’s deadline. The Eagles acquired running back Jay Ajayi for a fourth-rounder, and Bills GM Brandon Beane (who came from Carolina) traded with the Panthers for receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Buffalo gave up two 2018 picks.

2. Assuming Ezekiel Elliott stays suspended this time, the Cowboys will turn to some combination of Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith, hoping their talented line can open holes for the backups.

3. Following Monday Night’s loss, there was clearly tension among the Broncos. “We’re not winning,” corner Chris Harris said postgame. “We’re not taking care of the football. We’re giving the games away.” Tuesday, coach Vance Joseph hinted at the possibility of a QB change.

4. Tom Junod and Seth Wickersham have a terrific article on about Tom Brady’s dual goals of playing football forever and growing his brand beyond the field.

5. JuJu Smith-Schuster has only averaged a little more than 50 yards per game, and yet he’s been one of 2017’s biggest breakout stars because of his infectious personality. Here, Stephen J. Nesbitt puts together the best profile of Smith-Schuster I’ve come across since he joined the Steelers, full of as much rich color as you’d expect.

6. Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso won’t be suspended for his Thursday night hit on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. After violating team rules, Giants corner Janoris Jenkins was not so lucky—he’s been suspended indefinitely.

7. Browns wideout Josh Gordon will reportedly meet with Roger Goodell today in New York regarding his indefinite drug ban.

8. Dan Pompei goes deep for Bleacher Report on Jameis Winston‘s interception problem.

9. After missing eight games with a preseason leg injury, defensive back Obi Melifownu should finally play for a Raiders defense in need of fresh blood Sunday in Miami.

10. Jeremy Lane failed his physical so he won’t be traded from Seattle to Houston. Instead, the Seahawks will give up an additional pick.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let me know here.


Tuesday’s most clicked link was one about the avocado toast costume Tom Brady said he’d be wearing. So it’s only right I share the actual look today.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Email me directly or let the team know at [email protected]

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