The Browns have turned a new page for their franchise in record time.
On the same day that the team fired Sashi Brown, its executive vice president of football operations, it hired the next man to lead the front office: former Chiefs general manager John Dorsey.
Dorsey was fired by the Chiefs in June after four years and five draft classes with that franchise. Along with coach Andy Reid, Dorsey recorded a 43-21 record with Kansas City and was responsible for drafting current stars like Travis Kelce, Marcus Peters, Tyreek Hill, and Kareem Hunt. He immediately became a name to watch after the Browns fired Brown, and now he has the job.
The Chiefs’ decision to part ways with Dorsey was a shocking move, explained in Sports Illustrated as an issue with Dorsey’s management style: “The stock criticism of Dorsey—that while he’s incredibly respected as an evaluator, he’s more scout than manager—was validated with a level of disorganization that was noticeable.”
If he can resolve some of those issues, his history of player evaluation is promising for Cleveland, where he’ll have plenty to work with. The Browns have as many as 13 total picks in next year’s draft, with two in the first round and three in the second—a treasure chest of assets made possible by Brown’s tendency to trade down, but that also saw the franchise pass on promising quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. The Browns could have around $100 million in cap space for Dorsey to work with next offseason.
The move may seem fast, but it’s a development Cleveland has been pursuing “for weeks,” according to ESPN. That could create a problem for the Browns, as if they had already come to a de facto agreement with Dorsey before firing Brown, it could represent a violation of the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior front-office jobs. Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reported that the Browns satisfied the Rooney Rule, but others were not so sure. Criticism poured in from NFL writers on Twitter:
I don't particularly care if the Browns checked a box by calling in someone to interview for a job he had no chance of getting. They violated what the NFL boasts that the Rooney Rule represents.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) December 8, 2017
Either they violated the Rooney Rule or lied about contacting candidates. Or I suppose both. https://t.co/1EjNeHlMzh— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) December 8, 2017
I don't think it satisfies the real purpose of the Rooney Rule for the Browns to basically say, "Take our word for it."— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) December 8, 2017
ESPN’s Adam Schefter also reported that the Rooney Rule had been cleared, but shared a message from John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group that works to promote diversity in the league. Wooten took issue with the way the Browns hired Dorsey.“I’ll be talking to the league about it because it bothers me. It doesn’t seem right. Why wouldn’t you interview one of the recommended people?” Wooten told Schefter.
The Browns have not disclosed which minority candidate they interviewed or when.
Dorsey will be introduced at a press conference Friday. The Browns have already confirmed that coach Hue Jackson will return in 2018, giving the team some continuity heading into next season as they try to weather a year in which they’ve gone 0-12 so far. How Dorsey works to improve Jackson’s roster could prove to be one of the greatest and most interesting team-building challenges of this offseason.