It seems like every day, new stories of the Cleveland Browns’ dysfunction leak out – even from bygone eras.
Before the Seattle Seahawks made Russell Wilson the NFL’s highest paid player, they entertained the idea of trading him to the Browns, according to Pro Football Talk. But Hue Jackson – Cleveland’s beleaguered head coach who was fired halfway through the 2018 season – had no idea it was even a possibility.
The trade was discussed “conceptually,” but talks did indeed happen, and progressed to the point where Cleveland’s 2018 No. 1 overall pick was floated as compensation. The Seahawks ended up signing Wilson to a four-year, $140 million contract, and Cleveland used that pick to draft its own franchise quarterback, Baker Mayfield.
Appearing on CBS Sports Radio, Jackson said he was not aware of these discussions at all.
“I’ve never heard something so crazy in my life,” Jackson said.
But when pressed on whether or not he would have known about potential trade talks, he didn’t completely rule out the possibility of them happening in some form.
“I’m sure [Former Browns GM] John [Dorsey] and [Seahawks GM] John Schneider are really tight,” Jackson said. “And I’m sure if they’re having conversations on their own and just jiving around and doing those kinds of things. I would think if something was serious about that, we — the executive team — and the organization would have known.”
It appears Cleveland and Seattle didn’t get to an advanced stage with the negotiations, and Jackson said he didn’t think Dorsey would have wanted to make the deal. The Browns had “identified that Baker [Mayfield] was our guy,” Jackson said, and any inkling that Wilson was a possibility might have thrown chaos into what was a united front. For that reason, Dorsey may have deliberately kept quiet.
That said, it also could speak to the shaky ground Jackson stood on at the time. He had won exactly one game in two seasons as Cleveland’s head coach, and ended up getting fired eight games into 2018. Many reports described the Jackson era as utter chaos, especially towards the end, when he grew paranoid and feuded with his fellow coaches.
One could also question the thinking behind preferring Mayfield to Wilson in the first place. Mayfield was far from a sure thing as a draft prospect, and he took a step back in 2019 after a strong rookie season. Wilson was as sure of a thing as possible at the QB position, albeit at a much higher price tag.
Pro Football Talk said that despite signing the deal in 2019, Wilson could still be traded at some point. They floated the Cowboys, Raiders and Saints as possible destinations, as well as any team “that doesn’t try to establish the run for three quarters and then ask him to save them in the fourth.”