Front Office Failings

Browns' front office blunders in the Davone Bess and Charles Johnson signings warrant the negative that surrounds the likes of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.

It's not surprising the negativity that continues to surround the Cleveland Browns and their search for a head coach. As many local media covering the team take their shots, deserved or not, the national media has begun to quiet in its criticism.

I will say, it's difficult to remain objective when discussing this team and those running the show -- and I share some of the same concerns when it comes to the leadership of the Browns.

The latest wave of criticism centers on Davone Bess and his issues, his latest being his hospitalization in Florida prior to the Browns trading for the wide receiver.

To be clear, the NFL does not have a locked-in protocol that would have helped the troubled player, provided the Browns information regarding Bess' situation and forced the KNOWING Miami Dolphins from revealing information on the player.

This isn't to say the Dolphins should have revealed Bess' medical issue, which the team was not legally permitted to do, because federal law protecting the privacy of the person in question. But to conceal, or should I say -- failing -- to acknowledge "something" wasn't quite right to the Browns and no less than two other teams interested in trading for Bess is inexcusable.

That being said, there is evidence to show that the Browns should have known something was amiss with Bess in March of 2013, when he was hospitalized.

The responsibility to conduct background checks on player acquisitions falls squarely on the shoulders of the Browns' front office, which includes Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi and Ray Farmer.

It is an inexcusable act, a complete failure in the Browns' process to investigate a player who had an issue that was reported by the Miami media just a month prior to the trade between the Browns and Dolphins.

After missing or ignoring the situation, the Browns proceeded to sign Bess to a contract extension, which simply bleeds of ignorance or utter failure as responsible representatives of the Cleveland Browns football club.

It's this type of issue that provokes fans and media alike to criticize the Browns and specifically Banner and Lombardi.

Should the situation cost someone his job? Maybe not, but the collective issues coming from this organization should certainly spotlight a deficiency within the organization.

With the recent Bess situation, another questionable player transaction by the Browns during the 2013 has again reared its head.

On Oct. 12, the Browns signed Charles Johnson, a wide receiver on the Green Bay Packers practice squad. When he arrived in Cleveland it was determined he had a torn ACL. Because Johnson was signed off the practice squad, the Browns were required to keep him on the 53-player roster for three weeks, despite his inability to play within the Browns depleted receiver corps at the time.

Did the Browns do their homework or was this simply the team taking a chance on a player not knowing he was injured?

When signing a player off a practice squad, the team signing the player does not get the opportunity to give the player a physical prior to the signing. With the player having the injury prior to the signing, the Browns could have petitioned the league to rescind the deal, but they did not.

Why didn't the Browns?

The Browns were high on Johnson coming out of Grand Valley State and were willing to get their hands on him, get him healthy and develop him. Johnson has excellent size, speed and quickness and the Browns believe he will be a contributor in the 2014 season.

Again, another questionable move by the Browns' front office, which left them again wearing egg on their collective faces. But, I supposed this was one way to get their guy.


For more of Lane Adkins' takes, insights and scoops visit The Fast Lane forum.

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