The chasm between the Browns coaching staff and front office quarterback AJ McCarron from the Bengals, with team and league sources saying numerous coaches believe GM Sashi Brown had no intention of actually completing the agreed-upon trade.
The Browns failed to send in signed paperwork to the NFL or call into the league office to potentially finalize the trade before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline after making a verbal agreement with the Bengals to send two draft picks for McCarron. The degree of compensation -- a second- and a third-round pick -- struck the rest of the league as wildly inflated, and while rival executives can see why Brown would have balked in the end, backing out of a verbal commitment to another team is considered a massive breach of protocol within the NFL, leaving the Bengals, and Browns coaches, furious.
It was well known within the Browns organization how highly coach Hue Jackson though of McCarron, who he coached previously with the Bengals, and in the fallout of the Browns not being involved in talks for Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, long a potential target of theirs, tensions were very high this week. Browns coaches were noting privately the social media activity of numerous front office personnel, some of whom sources said were out of the office Monday night as other trades were being consummated. Browns coaches also were furious about some execs leaving the building early on Tuesday to celebrate Halloween with the families, sources said, with the winless team foundering during a bye week and jobs clearly on the line.
The gulf between Jackson and Brown is well known throughout the league, and some coaches believe the front office "sabotaged" the McCarron trade. The Browns are well aware of the procedures required to complete trades, and several rival executives noted that Brown's assistant, Chris Cooper, has deep experience in all minutia from his time working directly on the NFL's Management Council.
The Browns have just one victory since Jackson and Brown took over their respective position s prior to the 2016 season, and league sources said ownership has already starting talking internally about how to move forward with a new regime in 2018. Owner Jimmy Haslam's son-in-law, JW Johnson, has continued to take a more hands-on role with the club, sources said, and he will be an integral figure in the reshuffling of the franchise, along with Haslam's wife, Dee, who is considered by many inside and outside of the organization to be the most powerful figure in the Browns hierarchy.