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Browns fire ‘Moneyball’ GM Sashi Brown but will keep head coach Hue Jackson

Cleveland has won just a single game since Brown took over personnel decisions.

NFL: International Series-Minnesota Vikings at Cleveland Browns Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns have won exactly a single game over the past two seasons. Now they’re parting ways with executive vice president Sashi Brown, the team announced Thursday.

“We have great appreciation and gratitude for Sashi’s commitment and leadership to our organization but believe transitioning to someone with strong experience and success in drafting and building consistently winning football teams is critical to the future of the Cleveland Browns,” owner Jimmy Haslam said in the team’s statement. “Today we informed Sashi that we were going in a new direction.”

The Browns confirmed head coach Hue Jackson’s job is safe.

“Hue Jackson will remain our coach and will return for the 2018 season but we feel it is necessary to take significant steps to strengthen our personnel department,” Haslam’s statement read.

Jackson and Brown were “not on speaking terms” over the past month, sources told Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.

The rest of the front office staff will remain in their current roles for now, according to Cabot. That includes Mr. Moneyball himself, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta.

Why did Cleveland fire Brown? Brown had 11 draft picks to work with this offseason, and the Browns still can’t win. Much of that can be blamed on the instability at the quarterback position.

One of Brown’s first big moves after taking over in Cleveland was signing Robert Griffin III. Griffin had a promising training camp and preseason, but landed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 1. A revolving door of Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, and Kevin Hogan filled in, with no success.

Griffin was able to return in Week 14 and started the rest of the season. He was behind center when the Browns got their only win. The Browns released him after the season.

This offseason, Brown drafted their quarterback of the future, DeShone Kizer, in the second round. Kizer won the starting role in Cleveland, but has been benched a few times for costly turnovers.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but the Browns could have had Deshaun Watson. Brown traded the 12th-overall pick to the Houston Texans, who used it to draft Watson. Watson looked like a lock for offensive rookie of the year honors before he landed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. Brown also traded away the second-overall pick in 2016 to the Philadelphia Eagles, who used it on 2017 MVP frontrunner Carson Wentz.

Cleveland worked out an agreement with the Bengals this year to trade for their backup quarterback, AJ McCarron, before the deadline. But the paperwork didn’t go through in time. The Browns sent the paperwork to the Bengals at 3:54 p.m. and assumed the Bengals would submit it to the league for them. They didn’t.

It was such a colossal screwup that Brown had to answer questions about whether or not he deliberately sabotaged the deal. He called those rumors “wholly untrue.”

The Browns have needed a franchise quarterback since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999. Brown stockpiled draft picks and Cleveland currently has about $62 million in cap space to work with. He still failed to find a capable signal caller.

Who will take over for Brown? The team didn’t take long to hire a replacement: former Chiefs GM John Dorsey.

Dorsey is the Browns’ ninth GM since 1999 and will have six extra picks to work with in the 2018 draft. Cleveland will have five picks in the first two rounds, and two of those may be in the top 10 thanks to the trade that let the Texans draft Watson. It just depends on how Houston’s season wraps up. The Browns are also projected to have about $100 million in cap space next year to build a competitive roster.

Jackson said he doesn’t want personnel control.

"I'd like to know and be in concert with the person that will be doing those things,” Jackson said, via NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano.

He also said this wasn’t because of issues between himself and Brown.

Why are the Browns keeping Hue Jackson? Jackson has had just as much time as Brown to right the ship in Cleveland. But even though the Browns have just one win under their current head coach, his players haven’t quit on him.

“I think that is what Coach Jackson does best — is keep us motivated,” guard Joel Bitonio said, via ESPN’s Pat McManamon. “A lot of teams could have tapped out, but we are going to fight and we are going to play as hard as we can. I think you can see that, at least in our play.”

It’s possible Dorsey may decide he wants someone else in the role. Haslam said before the 2015 season that he wouldn’t “blow things up” even if the Browns finished with a losing record. He fired Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer and replaced them with Jackson and Brown, anyway.

But for now, at least, Brown is the only one out. Cleveland is sticking with Jackson.