The reports streamed in on Sunday morning, prior to the Browns game against the Arizona Cardinals and just two days before the NFL’s trade deadline on Tuesday.
The first report, from Ian Rapaport of NFL.com, indicated that the Browns were shopping two veteran offensive linemen, Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, for future assets.
Then, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reported that the Browns were involved in talks surrounding outside linebacker Paul Kruger, before confirming that Barkevious Mingo was another potential trade piece for the team, according to a source.
Though the speculation was rampant just hours before kickoff, the Browns were undeterred by the reports, according to head coach Mike Pettine.
In fact, Pettine downplayed the reports as having little substance in the first place.
“I just think it’s a function of, when you get close to the trade deadline and things aren’t going well, people outside the building want to put two and two together and float stuff out there,” Pettine said. “I didn’t notice any lack of focus because of some rumor that came out the morning of the game.”
Tight end Gary Barnidge, who scored a touchdown in Sunday’s loss, backed his coach, saying that he didn’t even know about the rumors until after the game’s final whistle had blown.
“I think some people might have known,” Barnidge said. “I had no idea until afterwards.”
Whether Barnidge knew about it at the time or not is rather inconsequential, as he doesn’t pay it much mind anyways. ‘
“That stuff is going to happen one way or another anyways. You really can’t focus on that,” Barnidge said. “You can’t let it affect your play or anything with the team because it is all about the team. We are not worried about any of the outside stuff.”
The Browns might not pay much attention to the rumors, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to a totally apathetic view of the situation.
Safety Tashaun Gipson believes that while the players have to be professional and continue to perform their jobs at the highest level regardless of any rumors that are floating around, they also want to keep the status quo in the locker room.
“You would like to keep this locker room the same,” Gipson said. “You would like to keep the guys in this locker room who bled, who sweat, came through training camp and went through the rhythm.”
Though he’s not in favor of the Browns dishing at the deadline, he understands the nature of the beast and that if moves are to happen, he hopes they’re the right transactions.
“Unfortunately, we can’t control it. We can’t control who it is. We’re going to just go with the moves and try to make good with whatever the decision that the front office makes,” Gipson said. “Hopefully, it’s the best one for the organization.”
It remains to be seen whether or not the Browns will make a big move or any move at all before Tuesday’s deadline, but in either case, Pettine said it shouldn’t affect the Browns and their ability to try to improve this week and beyond.
“When things don’t go well, this is what happens. It’s an overreaction to losses or an overreaction to our current state,” Pettine said of the rumors. “(It’s about) just having confidence in what we’re doing and knowing we need to incrementally improve and do the little things right and we’ll get the result we want.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.