Are you ready for the most Browns story ever -- well, ever since the last most Browns story ever? Admittedly, there's been more than a few, but this one might just be the best.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that the Browns and Bengals agreed on a trade for Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron, who has long been a hot commodity in the backup quarterback market, just before the NFL trade deadline. The move made sense. Sure, McCarron has barely played in the NFL, but Browns coach Hue Jackson used to be the Bengals' offensive coordinator, so he knew what he was getting in McCarron.
Unfortunately, the Browns never actually completed their trade for McCarron because according to Schefter, the Browns failed to notify the NFL before the 4 p.m. ET deadline. The Bengals reported the trade. The Browns did not.
Bengals and Browns thought they beat the clock on AJ McCarron trade. Clock beat them. Close but no deal.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
Bengals and Browns actually agreed to AJ McCarron trade at 3:55 pm, per source involved. Bengals approved trade to NFL, Browns did not.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
The Browns didn't go down without a fight, but -- as most of their fights go -- they lost.
Browns disputed proposed AJ McCarron trade to NFL, arguing it should be allowed, per source. NFL declined - no trade, officially, per source— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
They were too late.
NFL rejected Browns request to overturn AJ McCarron trade. Even though Browns’ notification of trade arrived moments too late, NFL said no.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
In McCarron, the Browns would've been getting a quarterback who's played in nine regular-season games, during which he's thrown six touchdowns and two picks for a 97.1 passer rating, and one playoff game, during which he threw one touchdown and one pick for a 68.3 passer rating. So, it's not like the Browns missed out on a home-run trade. Maybe their failure to verify the trade will end up working out for the best. According to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Browns were offering a second-round and third-round pick. And that means the Browns were reportedly OK with giving up more for McCarron than the 49ers gave up for Jimmy Garoppolo.
But what's important here is how the trade went down. Only the Browns could fail so spectacularly at executing a last-second trade. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Panthers and Bills completed their Kelvin Benjamin trade at 3:57 p.m. ET -- three minutes before the trade deadline -- and neither team had any issues getting the deal approved by the NFL. So, this really is a "only the Browns" kind of moment.
Without McCarron on their roster, the Browns will move onwards (and downwards) with either rookie DeShone Kizer, who has already been benched twice, Cody Kessler, and Kevin Hogan. Remember: They're only in this situation because they passed on taking MVP candidate Carson Wentz in the 2016 draft and Rookie of the Year candidate Deshaun Watson in this year's draft. That doesn't mean the Browns' strategy of rebuilding by acquiring an endless supply of draft picks will ultimately fail, it just means they're still lacking a franchise-altering quarterback.
At some point, they'll need to commit resources to the most important position in football. Maybe they'll do so in next year's draft. At 0-8, the Browns are, once again, on track to land a top-two pick in the draft.
Let's just hope that when the time comes, they turn in their draft card before the clock expires.