Less than 12 hours after the firing of Sashi Brown, the Cleveland Browns named John Dorsey their new general manager.
It’s a home run hiring for the Haslam family, landing someone with the NFL credentials of Dorsey, not baseball and Ivy league backgrounds, to take over the NFL’s most dysfunctional organization.
After the failed two-year analytics experiment led by Brown, who was named vice president of football operations despite having no scouting experience, Dorsey brings a long and successful track record of talent evaluation and team building from his years in Green Bay and Kansas City.
Dorsey will have a boatload of draft capital thanks to Brown and fellow analytics executives Paul DePodesta and Andrew Berry, both of whom — for now — remain under contract with the team. Dorsey is very likely to use that ammunition, including two top-10 picks and three second-rounders in 2018, in an earnest attempt to solve one of professional sports’ toughest riddles — the procuring of a franchise quarterback in Cleveland.
Dorsey will also inherit lame-duck coach Hue Jackson, whom the Haslams opted to keep over Brown despite his 1-27 record. But Jackson will obviously be on an extremely short leash next season, with Dorsey likely bringing with him a number of potential candidates to join him in Cleveland if the team doesn’t vastly exceed expectations in short order.
Dorsey was unexpectedly fired by the Chiefs last offseason after helping lead the resurrection of a 2-14 team into one that went 43-21 over the next four seasons, including three playoff berths and a division title in his final year.
But the Chiefs, losers in six of their past seven games following a 5-0 start, are currently feeling the effects of an aging ‘D’ whose neglect under Dorsey was one of the main reasons for his ousting.
Cleveland already has plenty of intriguing young talent that was acquired under Brown’s watch. From a trio of 2017 first-rounders in Myles Garrett, Jabril Peppers and David Njoku to a young linebacking corps (Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey) to impressive talent, albeit volatile, on the offensive perimeter (Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon) and one of the NFL’s more expensive offensive lines, the Browns’ 0-12 record isn’t reflective of a roster with some impressive building blocks.
Yet the Browns’ infamous quarterback and coaching carousel, for which the Haslams share plenty of culpability, has been the leading cause of the NFL’s fourth-longest postseason drought — 14 seasons and counting.
Dorsey, a Ron Wolf disciple who was in Green Bay when the Packers landed Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers and helped orchestrate the trade that brought Alex Smith from San Francisco to Kansas City, has proven he can get right what’s been most wrong in Cleveland for more than two decades.
It actually wouldn't be stunning to see Dorsey consider Smith as a stopgap in Cleveland. Remember, Dorsey's last bold move in Kansas City was trading up 17 spots in April to select Patrick Mahomes, the gunslinger waiting in the wings behind Smith, who, in Year 13, has played inspired football in his finest season. The Chiefs are very likely to entertain calls for Smith this offseason, and few besides Reid and Jim Harbaugh know Smith better than Dorsey.
Perhaps more than anything, Dorsey can bring stability and respectability to a Cleveland franchise that’s been the league’s biggest laughingstock for a long time. If the Haslams are willing to stay out of his way and commit to letting Dorsey execute his plan — and he must’ve received some type of assurance that’d be the case to agree to the position — the Browns’ outlook is suddenly as bright as it’s been in ages.