Much-maligned former Browns general manager Sashi Brown takes a significant amount of blame for Cleveland winning only one game in two seasons. His personnel decisions at the time were thought of as highly questionable, as he tore the team down to the literal studs. Despite overseeing two of the worst seasons in franchise history, there were a few moves made by Brown that set Cleveland up for the success they are having now.
Brown got his start in football with the Jacksonville Jaguars, as he was hired in 2005 as a member of the lead council. After leaving that job in 2012, he was picked up by the Browns a year later for their role of executive vice president. Brown rose the ranks in Cleveland’s organization, becoming their de facto general manager in 2016.
Brown’s reputation among Browns fans is not a positive given the talent he was responsible for putting on the field. Brown was not someone who came from much of a football background, as he was more heavily involved with the business aspect of the game before becoming Browns general manager. Despite Cleveland fans remembering Brown most vividly for passing on the chance to draft Deshaun Watson, his mass accumulation of draft capital helped the Browns turn things around.
Firstly, Sashi Brown’s trade of a fourth round pick in 2017 to acquire a 2017 sixth round pick, a 2018 second round pick and quarterback Brock Osweiler was heralded as one of the most creative moves in NFL history by pundits around the league. Cleveland essentially purchased Brock Osweiler’s hefty contract for a second round pick. That pick turned out to be running back Nick Chubb.
Secondly, there was much controversy in the city of Cleveland prior to the 2017 NFL Draft of who the Browns should take with their number one overall selection. There were many people in town who wanted to see the Browns select Cleveland native Mitch Trubisky. While it would have made sense for Cleveland to select the local quarterback product as they did with Brady Quinn, they opted for the safer pick in Myles Garrett. Not only has Trubisky struggled mightily throughout his NFL career, but Garrett is already a multi-time Pro Bowler. Brown did not have many great draft day moments, but his selection of Garrett has been vital to Cleveland’s current success.
Brown certainly deserves his share of criticism for the way things went on the field for the team during his tenure as general manager. There were many draft day moves that turned out to be disastrous, including a first round selection of wide receiver Corey Coleman, who lasted only three seasons in the NFL. While Brown never fully addressed the quarterback position, he left organization with the assets to do so after leaving. He did not waste a high first-round pick on a quarterback that was not worth it, something that sets franchises back years. Brown was also constantly at odds with head coach Hue Jackson, who was not on the same page as ownership and front office members on how the rebuild was supposed to take place.
Brown also stripped the team of a majority of its veteran talent, leaving Cleveland with a staggering amount of salary cap room which allowed them to trade for players like Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns have done a good job managing the cap, as they currently have the twelfth most cap room of any team in the NFL heading into the 2021 offseason with just under 30 million dollars to maneuver with for next year.
In no way was Sashi Brown a terrific general manager. In the end, the NFL is a results business and one is judged solely on those results. However, if the Browns continue to grow this offseason, there is no doubt that they will continue their successes in 2021. If Cleveland is to go on a lengthy run of success, Sashi Brown should be an interesting footnote for Browns fans to discuss in the future.