BEREA, Ohio -- As Browns head of football operations Sashi Brown described the aftermath of last week's failed attempt to trade for Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron, the words "adversity" and "challenging" came to the forefront.
"Last week was a tough, tough week for us from a PR perspective and things we can get better on," Brown said Monday as the team returned from its bye week.
The botched deal could cost Brown his job and damage his relationship with coach Hue Jackson beyond repair despite the executive's insistence he's not concerned about those scenarios.
"I don't 1/8worry about it costing me my job3/8," Brown said. "We're in good communication with 1/8owners3/8 Dee and Jimmy 1/8Haslam3/8 on these things, and they're well apprised of what we're doing and why and how things come together. They've seen our track record in terms of being able to perform and pull off some of the more creative deals in the league and a host of just simple, straightforward transactions, whether they're in the season or on draft day.
"So I don't 1/8have that concern3/8. I think they understand that we've been as aggressive as any team trying to churn this roster and improve it."
Jackson wanted McCarron, whom he coached in Cincinnati for two seasons, and the 0-8 Browns agreed to trade second- and third-round picks in 2018 for Andy Dalton's backup. But they failed to finalize the deal by submitting the proper paperwork to the NFL before the 4 p.m. Oct. 31 trade deadline.
Ever since then, people throughout the NFL have been questioning whether Brown or someone else in the front office deliberately sabotaged the trade.
"It's wholly untrue," Brown said. "I think we were all in there together, Hue, myself and a couple other staff members that work on these things at the time, we were trying to get the trade done. So 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."
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported Sunday members of the Browns coaching staff believe Brown intentionally scuttled the trade. Brown was asked whether he met with the coaches to assure them there was no foul play.
"I'm not worried about that part of it," he said. "Hue was in the room as we were hustling to try to get the deal done, so he observed it, witnessed it. For us, we have to be realistic and big boys about the fact that right now we're not great, and it's easy to pile on and write various things."