"Hey Lee, about that whole trade thing. Just kiddin'. Ha ha, gotcha, didn't we!"
While the joke may have been on Lee Suggs, it's the Browns who are currently wiping the egg off their face as the Monday trade that sent running back to the New York Jets in exchange for cornerback Derrick Strait was rescinded yesterday after Suggs failed a physical administered by the Jets.
Neither side gave many details for the rescission, one because they didn't know and the other because they wouldn't say.
Browns head coach Romeo Crennel was not aware of the issue or issues surrounding the failed physical, while Jets head coach Eric Mangini refused to discuss the specifics of why the trade was voided.
A Browns source seemed to confirm Crennel's version of the events, saying that the club "has no idea why Lee failed."
"He's the healthiest he's been since he was drafted. There has not even been a hint of an issue with him since the start of minicamps. So, yeah, this was kind of a surprise."
However, a league source tells The OBR that the reason for the failed physical centers around concerns over Suggs' left knee. While the RB has not suffered a knee injury during his four years in the league, he did suffer a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus of his left knee in Virginia Tech's 2001 season opener.
At least one report suggests that stenosis—a curvature of the spine—is the root of the problem, but the league source dismissed that as an issue, saying that the back problem "was a possibility but not very likely."
So, just where do the Browns and Suggs go from here?
For the time being, Suggs will return to the RB rotation and continue his roster fight on two fronts, one with William Green for the backup spot and the other with rookie Jerome Harrison for the third-down, change-of-pace role.
At the time of the trade, though, Suggs was the chaser on both fronts. If that were to continue through the remainder of training camp and into the final round of cuts, a spot on the roster remains in jeopardy.
Following the trade on Monday, a Browns source told The OBR that, if Suggs had not been traded, there was a very real possibility that the back would have been released in the coming weeks. According to the same source, that possibility still remains.
In the meantime, the Browns will continue efforts to trade Suggs, efforts that began around the time of last April's draft and have continued over the last four or five months.
Just how much this rescinded trade hurts Suggs' trade value remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however.
It didn't help.
"There were red flags all around Lee before he failed the physical," said the Browns source. "Now, you've got some fireworks and bells and whistles as well. Phil's job just got a whole helluva lot tougher."