Looking Back on How the Browns Botched Negotiations With Mitchell Schwartz in Embarrassing Fashion

Mitchell Schwartz
The Cleveland Browns let OL Mitchell Schwartz walk in 2016. | George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns have mostly been a disaster since returning in 1999, but one thing the team has been able to do is identify and develop offensive line talent. The team had one of the best left tackles to ever play the game in Joe Thomas and at one point had Mitchell Schwartz opposite him at right tackle.

Schwartz is now an All-Pro and a Super Bowl champion for the Kansas City Chiefs. He hit free agency following the 2015 season right when a new group, led by Sashi Brown, took over in the Browns front office. Fans heard all about the analytical approach coming to town and one of the group's first moves was to botch the negotiations with Schwartz, who started all 16 games in his first four NFL seasons with Cleveland.

The story goes that the Browns offered the star tackle a deal worth $7 million annually. He then asked to test free agency and when he came back to the Browns to take the deal, it was no longer on the table. Schwartz then settled for a deal with the Chiefs worth less than the original Browns deal. Fans in Cleveland know this story all to well, and what followed was a stretch of football where the team went 1-31.

The front office came back and said Schwartz left on his own, but there's no reason for him to lie when he ended up taking less money in Kansas City. The Browns also lost star center Alex Mack in the same offseason and the new strategy in place was doomed from the start.

A line that took years to build was dismantled in a day for no reason other than incompetence. This ended up working out for Schwartz, which adds him to the list of former Browns to finally get a taste of success once leaving town.