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Browns’ McCarron excuse doesn’t mesh with NFL procedures

The Browns reportedly had a trade in place with the Bengals for QB A.J. McCarron, but they failed to inform the NFL in time, so the deal fell through.

Reeling from the most public yet of their many humiliations, the Browns have blamed the failed trade for quarterback A.J. McCarron on the bunglings of the Bengals, telling Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the Bengals failed to send to the league the trade document signed by both teams, after the Browns had sent the signed paperwork to Cincinnati.

There’s one small problem with that excuse. That’s not how trades are communicated to the league. And every key member of every front office knows, or should know, the proper procedure.

Per multiple league sources, a trade becomes official only when both teams independently communicate the trade to the league office. It definitely doesn’t happen as the Browns claim they tried to do it, with chain of communication involving one team sending a form to the other team, which then signs the form and sends it to the league.

And so here are the potential explanations for what’s going on. One, the Browns are lying about what happened to cover up their incompetence. Two, the Browns are telling the truth and are genuinely incompetent. Three, the Browns deliberately sent the paperwork to the Bengals and not to the league office in order to keep the trade from happening, with a premeditated “did I do that?” already in place.

Whatever the explanation, the Browns have yet again provided anyone who is paying attention a tangible example of the kind of dysfunction that, in an age of unprecedented parity, has resulted in the team winning one out of 24 games.