CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Hue Jackson wins.
The Browns fired executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown Thursday in a move in which the timing of and not the actual decision was more surprising.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini were first to report the news Thursday morning.
“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,” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
The Browns are currently mired in the worst stretch of football in NFL history and are 1-27 since the start of the 2016 season but head coach Hue Jackson will not be fired according to Haslam.
“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,” Haslam said. “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.”
After allowing right tackle Mitchell Scwartz, safety Tashaun Gipson and receiver Travis Benjamin to walk in free agency in 2016, Brown and the Browns made 24 draft selections and nearly 20 trades to lay the foundation for rebuilding the roster from the ground up.
Brown orchestrated a blockbuster trade with Philadelphia for the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL draft that allowed the Eagles to select quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz has gone on to revitalize Philadelphia’s football team and is already in the conversation for MVP in just his second season while Brown failed to use a single of the multitude of picks acquired to land a legitimate impact, game-changing player.
Failure to pursue Jimmy Garoppolo via trade or select Deshaun Watson in the draft this year combined with releasing veteran Josh McCown as well as selecting Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer in back-to-back drafts epitomized Brown’s failure in properly addressing the most critical position on the field – quarterback.
At the trade deadline on Oct. 31 Brown and the front office failed to complete paperwork to execute a trade for Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron bringing another round of embarrassment to the embattled franchise, all but sealing Brown’s fate.
“Our win-loss record since I became executive vice president isn’t going to cut it,” Brown said in a statement released through the team. “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.”
In Cincinnati on Nov. 26 Jackson ran nearly 30 yards to hug McCarron and he brought the quarterback over to visit with Haslam prior to the game with the Bengals while Brown stood some 40 yards away.
To Brown’s credit, the Browns are in fantastic shape moving forward.
Cleveland owns 13 picks in the 2018 NFL draft including 5 in the first 2 rounds – Houston’s first and second round picks and Philadelphia’s second in addition to their own – as well as over $59 million in unused salary cap space that will be rolled over into 2018.
The next football executive will be the fourth under the Haslams, the Browns’ seventh since 2008 and ninth since 1999.