The teams failed to submit the proper paperwork to complete the trade before the NFL’s 4 p.m. deadline, and the inability to execute the deal led to speculation that Brown intentionally scuttled the swap.
“That’s wholly untrue,” Brown said Monday during a 26-minute news conference as the winless Browns returned from a tumultuous bye week.
“We were all in there together. 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.”
While unable to land a franchise quarterback, the Browns attempted to acquire McCarron as a stop-gap answer, and agreed to send second and third-round draft picks to the Bengals. However, the teams didn’t settle on the deal until late in the process and couldn’t complete it in time.
“I do think Cincinnati in earnest tried, I know we did everything humanly possible to get it done, and it just didn’t happen,” Brown said. “It’s truly that simple.”
But there were deeper layers, and the botched trade seemed to underscore a growing rift between Browns and his group and coach Hue Jackson his staff.
Brown acknowledged that the team’s 1-23 record over the past two seasons placed immense pressure on everyone in the organization.
“In these builds and in these moments, there is a lot of adversity that will put pressure on people and we have to stay united internally,” he said. “We are working together.”
Brown doesn’t believe he will lose his job because of the trade fiasco and said owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam understand the difficulty in turning around the Browns.
Brown also accepted responsibility for not doing a better job in acquiring talent for Jackson.
“It’s my responsibility to deliver a roster here that is talented enough to win week in, week out,” he said. “And we haven’t done that, yet. We have a very aggressive plan as we move forward to bolster this roster in a huge offseason, probably the most important we have coming up.
“We’ll plan to execute on it.”