Cleveland has parted ways with general manager John Dorsey after just two years at the helm, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported, per sources informed of the decision. The team announced the move soon after. The decision to move on from Dorsey comes just two days after the Brownsfired head coach Freddie Kitchens at the conclusion of the regular season.
Dorsey had a meeting with owner Jimmy Haslam earlier Tuesday. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that Haslam was considering structural changes that would curb Dorsey's authority as GM. But the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on a restructured front office.
"We have a great appreciation for John and all he has done with the Cleveland Browns. He has helped create a foundation that we need to continue to develop and build upon," Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement released by the team. "While John helped greatly improve our team's talent and we are excited about the core players on our roster, we fully recognized that our team did not meet its potential on or off the field and additional changes in leadership give us the best opportunity for success in the future. As the role of the general manager continues to evolve in this league we felt there were areas that needed to be reassessed. Over the last 48 hours, we've had discussion with John about his role but could not come to an agreement on a position that would enable him to remain with the organization."
Dorsey added in a statement, "When I took this job, the history of this storied franchise and the passion of our fans was an integral part of my decision. It is that same understanding and desire to see these fans enjoy the success they are so deserving of that helped me conclude, along with Jimmy and Dee, that it was best to part ways as they embark on the search for a new head coach.
"I know how critical the relationship is between a general manager and head coach and I also know how critical it is that the Browns have a strong leader in their next coach. I have a great appreciation for the men and women I have worked with since being in Cleveland and my family has the same love and appreciation for this community and are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this journey."
Elsewhere in the organization, Browns assistant GM Eliot Wolf and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta remain in their roles, Garafolo and Pelissero reported.
Dorsey came to Cleveland in late 2017, just as the Browns were wrapping up the franchise's first-ever winless season, and arrived to a treasure trove of assets stockpiled by former GM Sashi Brown. He spent those quickly and without fear, acquiring key players like receiver Jarvis Landry, safety Damarious Randall and bridge quarterback Tyrod Taylor for mid-round selections and castoffs such as quarterback DeShone Kizer. Dorsey bucked convention, using the No. 1 overall pick on quarterback Baker Mayfield. He later spent the 35th pick on running back Nick Chubb, who finished second in the NFL in rushing yards in 2019, and in his second offseason acquired Odell Beckham and Olivier Vernon in exchange for Kevin Zeitler, Jabrill Peppers and Cleveland's 2019 first-round pick.
On paper, everything seemed great. Dorsey had transformed the Browns from a laughingstock to a roster loaded with talent, led by a quarterback with a massive chip on his shoulder who seemed to embody Cleveland better than anyone else. No longer would these Browns be the butt of jokes across the league. Dorsey had led them through their desert exile to the promised land, and all that was left was for the games to be played and won.
Dorsey's mistakes, though, are what ultimately did him in. He was wise in firing Hue Jackson, but made a grave error when he decided to retain interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens and promote him to head coach. He doubled down on that decision when he made the deal for Beckham and Vernon, adding to the significant pressure placed on a first-time head coach in Kitchens.
Kitchens couldn't handle the job well enough to earn a second season, as he was fired shortly after Cleveland's Week 17 loss to the 2-14 Bengals. His hiring was the biggest stain on Dorsey's trademark sweatshirt.
Dorsey's drafts seemed strong at first, producing young studs in Mayfield and Denzel Ward and a fifth-round gem in edge defender Genard Avery, but his misses, when combined with his choice of coaches, didn't help him. Dorsey took chances on players like offensive lineman Austin Corbett, who couldn't crack the starting lineup for a position group that sorely needed help before he was ultimately dealt to Los Angeles, and receiver Antonio Callaway, whose foreseeable off-field transgressions earned him a mid-season release in only his second campaign.
He made peculiar in-season moves as it became clearer 2019 would not go as planned, cutting rotational contributors like defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence and defensive end Chris Smith, and trading Avery after he seemingly didn't fit in new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks' scheme. Safety Jermaine Whitehead, a player cut by the Packers for fighting in-game and quickly scooped up by Dorsey in 2018, forced the GM's hand by going on an expletive-laced Twitter tirade following the Browns' Week 9 loss to Denver.
Beckham struggled through an injury that Mayfield later said he thought should've been treated properly during training camp with a sacrifice of two early season games to recover before returning. Those games couldn't be afforded for Dorsey's Browns, though, as they needed a fast start that would require Beckham's involvement. That resulted in Beckham battling through the season at about 80 percent, hampering Cleveland's big-play ability and adding to Mayfield's year-two regression.
All the while, Kitchens could never quite get the car back on the road, swerving and skidding to a 6-10 finish and another season spent watching the playoffs from home.
Dorsey's Browns had such promise, but never seemed buttoned up enough in 2019 to walk the runway without stumbling. Those missteps ultimately doomed the general manager in his second stint atop an NFL front office, well before he could successfully "awaken the sleeping giant."