Browns already undercutting future general manager

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam cleaned house for the third time since taking over the team in 2012.
Tony Dejak/AP

The next general manager of the Cleveland Browns won’t have final say over the roster and won’t be able to hire his own head coach.

That’s according to the plan laid out Sunday evening by owner Jimmy Haslam shortly after the team dismissed GM Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine. Haslam said that final say over the roster will be given to Sashi Brown, who was promoted from the role of executive vice president-general counsel to executive vice president of football operations. Brown has been with the organization since January 2013. Before that, he spent eight years with the Jaguars as the team’s general counsel. 

Haslam said the first order of business is to find a head coach, who will then participate in the hiring of the general manager. A four-person committee comprised of Haslam, his wife, Brown, and executive search consultant Jed Hughes will lead the hunt for a new head coach. Hughes has ties to Cleveland, having served as a defensive assistant on Bud Carson’s staff in 1989. As part of the Korn Ferry search firm, he has assisted with the hiring of Pete Carroll in Seattle, Andy Reid in Kansas City and Bill O’Brien in Houston, according to

As Mike Silver of NFL Network noted Sunday night, the Browns have tried and failed with this approach three times already, but apparently Haslam thinks a fourth time will be a charm, believing it makes more sense.

“If you think about it, we just think this makes more sense to hire the head coach first, then second to hire the talent acquisition or general manager.

“I have looked and spent a lot of time over the last year looking at NFL teams and then other professional sports teams in terms of how they are organized. You can look at New England, Green Bay and Seattle, and they are all organized differently and they all have been very successful. I will just reiterate what I say: I don’t think structure is quite as important as right people in the right place and everybody understanding their roles and working well together.”

So if the general manager doesn’t get to pick the players or his coach, what exactly will his or her duties be?

“The GM’s job will be this: he will be in charge of our entire scouting group. He will be in charge of putting the draft board together. The ultimate say will be Sashi’s. In reality, I would expect several people to work really close together – the GM, Sashi and our head coach.”

There you have it, the future GM will get to build the draft board with his scouting department, only to let someone else make the picks. While the idea of having too many cooks in the kitchen is usually is a recipe for disaster, it appears Haslam finds the idea quite appetizing.

Last but not least, since the new general manager won’t have final authority over the 53-man roster, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio says that teams can keep their executives from interviewing for the job, meaning the Browns might be left with candidates from the scrapheap.

Haslam was more than willing to accept the blame for the francise’s failures since his arrival, but his approach is already laying the ground work for another of these press conferences in another two or three years. 

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