BEREA—When it was all said and done, the Browns didn’t make any trades before the NFL trade deadline passed at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Before last Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, several national media outlets reported the Browns were actively shopping players like Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo.
However, rumors swirled right up until the final moments, particularly that Thomas would be traded to the Broncos, but the two teams couldn’t agree on compensation.
Ray Farmer spoke to the media for nearly 30 minutes the first time since returning from his four-game suspension from the NFL. He refuted that he was trying to trade any of the Browns.
“I don’t know if I was really close to completing one," Farmer said. "Again, we didn’t actively go out and try to move anybody. There’s not a single team I called and said, ‘Hey look, I’m shopping so and so.’ There was no shopping from my perspective, but I definitely listened. I think that’s really the job.
"That’s part of my job is when people call and make offers and suggest what they would like to have, see or have done, then it is my job to listen and start to think about is that a benefit to the Browns and in those conversations those are the ones we take a little more serious and we have our internal conversations about.”
Farmer said from his perspective the trading deadline amounted to much ado about nothing.
“I’ll say this is a general context so let’s leave all the players names out of it: The trading deadline creates a lot of controversy and a lot of scuttlebutt that generally results in nothing," he said. "For example, I would call a team and say ,‘Hey, take a look at our roster. Something interest you? Give me a call.’ Same back and forth. As you go through that process, some things are made light of, some things are serious. Either way it goes, until something is imminent or until a decision is made or a transaction is consummated, it’s all just fuel and fodder behind the scenes. "Sometimes, they’re serious conversations," he continued. "Sometimes, those conversations are very innocuous and they amount to nothing. From my vantage point, we had some conversations, and at the end of the day, they all resonated in the same thing – nothing. With that being said, we haven’t done anything, we didn’t do anything, but the reality for us is that’s generally how the trade deadline goes. Some people make some deals; some people don’t, but generally, people open it up and they have those conversations based upon what the reality could bring.”
Farmer said he thinks Thomas understands how the business works and it won’t affect his relationship with the Browns.
“When things become, I’ll say a distraction for some, like if as player can’t understand how the league is going – Joe’s a pro; he’s been around this long enough that he understands that when his name comes up it’s going to start a fire – it requires some sort of conversation with the player, with the agent to let them know where the team or the club is at," Farmer said. "You generally don’t move players or have those conversations, specifically as information gets out as it does nowadays as readily as it does nowadays, without having some sort of conversation with the agent and or the player.
Mike Pettine admitted the rumors prior to the Cardinals game caused a stir.
“The stuff that’s out there, how it gets out – it was unfortunate that the stuff would get put out when it got put out on game day,” Pettine said. “All that does is just add to the adversity that you have to deal with as a team, the equivalent of throwing a grenade in the locker room. You have guys that are focused trying to get ready for a game and somebody is going to put out a report about players potentially being shopped and how that spread. It’s disappointing that it happens, but I get it that it’s a part of the business.
“We talk about when things aren’t going the way you want them to go – I addressed this after the Rams game – it adds up to it’s the adversity that we deal with, and it’s something that we don’t have control over. It’s a good test of mental toughness and professionalism and all that. It’s not easy when you talk to those guys and know that or you see a comment like Joe Thomas – he’s a Brown; wants to stay a Brown. Alex Mack, the feeling is mutual with Alex. We love having him here and don’t want to see him go.”
Pettine didn’t sound as though he was on board with the possible trading of Thomas and was asked what it would’ve been like without Thomas.
“I have a hard enough time dealing in reality,” Pettine said. “That is a complete hypothetical. What does he mean? You talk about the Cleveland Browns and that is usually the first name you think of. He is one of the best players I have ever coached. From a personal standpoint, one of my favorite guys I have been around. On the field, off the field, he has been outstanding for us.”
Pettine did say that Farmer always consults him regarding any potential moves that he might make and said he and Pettine have an “excellent” relationship.