Back to the Browns for Berry
(973espn.com) - The Cleveland Browns made it official Tuesday morning, bringing back Andrew Berry to be the youngest general manager in the NFL.
Berry, 32, spent the last 11 months in Philadelphia as the organization's vice president of football operations, essentially the No. 2 man on the football side behind GM Howie Roseman.
"I'm honored and blessed to lead the Football Operations of the Cleveland Browns," Berry said in a statement.
Although most fans might not even realize Berry was in Philadelphia because his position was not a public-facing one the Eagles thought very highly of the Harvard MBA, essentially creating a position for him that was basically an assistant GM to Roseman in which Berry put his foot in all aspects of the football operations from scouting pro and college talent to dealing with the analytical department and working on contracts and strategy.
Before his arrival, Roseman worked closely with three VPs on those different aspects, now-Jets GM Joe Douglas with personnel, Jake Rosenberg with football administration (contracts/salary cap) and Alec Halaby (analytics). Andy Weidl has since replaced Douglas atop the personnel department and the two others remain so Philadelphia will simply slip back to its pre-Berry setup.
When hiring Berry last February the Eagles described it as adding talent to the front office and that ended up being in the case in that his presence didn't affect the other VPs, it gave Roseman a new sounding board.
The sample size isn't great enough to determine what Berry really added to the mix although the wide-ranging thinking regarding the organization is that it took a step back over the last year.
That said, the Eagles really liked Berry and blocked the Carolina Panthers from talking to him about becoming the executive VP of football operations there. Philadelphia couldn't do that with the Browns because Berry will have contractual power over personnel, a promotion that can't be blocked even if someone is under contract according to NFL hiring rules.
In many ways, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam had a bit of a Jeffrey Lurie/Chip Kelly/Roseman dynamic going on with Berry, who was Cleveland's vice president of player personnel from 2016 to 2018 before moving to the Eagles.
Berry remains very close to Cleveland chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, like Berry a Harvard product, and those two recommended Kevin Stefanski to be the Browns head coach in 2018 when Haslam, despite DePodesta being his most trusted aid, decided to give then-GM John Dorsey what he wanted, to elevate Freddie Kitchens in order to keep some consistency around the face of the franchise Baker Mayfield.
Haslam suffered buyer's remorse after a 6-10 season, jettisoning both Dorsey and Kitchens. DePodesta then got his guy in Stefanski, the son of former Philadelphia 76ers GM Ed Stefanski who got his start in the NFL as an Eagles intern where he got to know Brad Childress.
Childress took Stefanski to the Vikings as an assistant to the head coach and the Penn grad slowly climbed the ladder from there through three head coaches: Childress, Leslie Frazier, and Mike Zimmer.
Like Lurie when he regretted picking Kelly over back in 2015, Haslam wanted to put the band he liked back together with the three Ivy League grads steering the Browns moving forward.
"We are thrilled Andrew will lead our football operations," Dee and Jimmy Haslam said. "We have always been profoundly impressed with him as a consummate professional who has meticulously studied his craft every place he has worked and is extremely dedicated to utilizing every resource to improve an organization and to enhance his own knowledge. He will be a tremendous partner with Kevin as he embraces the critical nature of his relationship with the head coach. We know he can't wait to get to work."
"... I am excited to partner with Kevin Stefanski -- a coach I know our city will embrace because of his leadership skills, work ethic, humility and character—to work tirelessly and with immediate urgency toward building a winning organization that will make the people of Cleveland proud," Berry added.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen