On the same day the Cleveland Browns fired executive vice president Sashi Brown, the team reached an agreement with former Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey to take over the same position.
Dorsey will be introduced at a news conference on Friday, when he will be handed the reins to one of the NFL’s most historical but long-suffering franchises.
“We are thrilled to have John Dorsey lead our football operations,” team owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement on Thursday. “John has been immersed in the NFL for 26 years, won two Super Bowls, built sustainable winning football teams and is highly respected for his football acumen. We know we have a critical and very positive opportunity ahead of us to profoundly impact the foundation of this football team. Bringing in someone of John Dorsey’s caliber, his track record of success and his experience, significantly strengthens our opportunities to build a winning football team and that has been, and continues to be, what we want for our fans.”
With Dorsey as general manager in Kansas City from 2013 to 2016, the Chiefs recorded a 43-21 (.672) record, the fourth-highest winning percentage in the NFL during that span. Prior to that, Dorsey spent six seasons as a player with the Green Bay Packers and 21 years in the team’s scouting department. He also spent the 1999 season working for the Seattle Seahawks.
Cleveland will not hire another vice president, and Dorsey will be the new man in charge.
“Football is what I know, it is what I love, it is what I have worked my whole career at and I thrive on every element that goes into building a winning football team,” Dorsey said in a statement. “I have spent a majority of my football life with two franchises that also have storied history [sic], and I think I have a feel for the mentality of the fans in Cleveland and what it would mean to recreate the success this franchise once had. I also have quickly realized how passionate Jimmy and Dee are about bringing a winning team to the city and would have not taken the job if I didn’t think the right ownership was in place. I am eager to work with [coach] Hue [Jackson], his staff and our personnel department and help bring us the success these fans so deserve.”
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It is a move the Browns have been plotting for weeks, and with their interview cycle completed, they struck an agreement with Dorsey, who is drawn to one of the NFL’s iconic franchises the way he was when he worked for the Packers, who are Cleveland’s opponent on Sunday.
John Wooten, chairman of Fritz Pollard Alliance, said he was “deeply bothered” by the Browns’ hiring process. The alliance works to improve coaching and front-office opportunities for minorities in the NFL.
“I’ll be talking to the league about it because it bothers me. It doesn’t seem right. Why wouldn’t you interview one of the recommended people?” Wooten told ESPN.
Wooten, a former Browns player, thinks Dorsey is qualified, but he was not happy that the team did not interview other qualified minority candidates.
Dorsey is taking over a team that, despite being winless, is actually well-positioned for future years, as many NFL executives have noted recently.
Dorsey inherits some of the riches that Brown helped to acquire, including six extra picks in April’s NFL draft — a first-round pick, two seconds, a fourth and a fifth.
The Browns also have $59.25 million in cap space that they can roll over into next year, when they already are scheduled to have another $38.6 million of room, giving them almost $100 million in salary-cap space.
“The 2018 draft and offseason is pivotal for our franchise; we need to ensure that we maximize our opportunity for success, with our picks, free agency and building our roster,” Jimmy Haslam said in a statement on Thursday after his team fired Brown.
According to league sources, Haslam considered this a timely opportunity to hire a new football boss, similar to a move the Packers once exercised when they hired Ron Wolf as general manager in late November 1991. Wolf considered it an advantage to get an early read on the Packers’ roster and the coaching staff before he turned around a franchise that had grown irrelevant for more than 20 years. Wolf hired Dorsey to join his personnel staff and has been a mentor.
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard, who worked under Dorsey with the Chiefs from 2013-16, had effusive praise Thursday night for his former boss as a family man who also happens to be one of the NFL’s top personnel evaluators.
“John is an excellent evaluator and team builder,” Ballard said. “He knows what it takes to win in this league and has a proven track record in Green Bay and Kansas City. He’s going to embrace the city of Cleveland, Browns history and their fans. They will be very proud of the team that he puts together and I have no question he will build a consistent winner. They are very lucky to get him.”