Winless Browns fire VP Brown, coach Hue Jackson keeps job
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — One win in two seasons cost Sashi Brown his job with the Browns. Coach Hue Jackson is keeping his — for now.
Winless with four weeks left in another dismal season, the Cleveland Browns fired Brown on Thursday, jettisoning their top football executive who was unable to improve the volatile franchise enough to satisfy owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam.
Jackson, though, is safe and will return for the 2018 season despite a 1-27 record.
“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,” Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. “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.”
Haslam said Jackson will return next season, “but we feel it is necessary to take significant steps to strengthen our personnel department. We have begun the process of having productive conversations regarding leadership of our football operations and will provide further updates when appropriate.”
Brown had final say on the team’s roster, and Haslam may bring in an executive with more NFL experience.
Brown was able to build a nice nest egg for any future general manager or front office. The Browns have two first-round picks in next year’s draft and the team could have as much as $100 million in salary-cap space to help it rebuild.
Along with losing, the Browns have been consistent in front-office and coaching shake-ups. Since taking ownership in 2012, Haslam has fired five other football executives and four coaches.
Brown was named the team’s top executive by the Haslams during an overhaul following the 2015 season. His firing is not unexpected since the Browns are 0-12 for the second straight season with Brown in charge. He gutted Cleveland’s roster, electing not to re-sign some of the team’s own free agents in favor of signing younger players and acquiring future draft picks.
However, the team’s decision to pass up on drafting quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the past two drafts may have hastened Brown’s demise and Cleveland has shown little sign of improvement since Brown took over. Brown had no experience in evaluating players as he served as the team’s general counsel before handling the salary cap and contracts.
ESPN was first to report Brown’s dismissal.
It’s not yet clear if Haslam plans to retain chief strategist Paul DePodesta and player personnel director Andrew Berry.
Brown and Jackson appeared to be at odds over several roster decisions and Haslam figured his best course of action was to end the relationship rather than attempting to repair it.
Recently, the Browns failed to execute a trade with Cincinnati for quarterback AJ McCarron. The team didn’t submit the required paperwork to the league in time to complete the deal before the deadline on Oct. 31, and the clumsy misstep may have been the final straw for Brown.
Before the team played the Bengals two weeks ago, Jackson and Haslam both chatted with McCarron on the field while Brown stayed on Cleveland’s sideline — a tell-tale sign of their rift.
The Browns host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
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