Executive Vice President, Football Operations & General Manager, Andrew Berry (2.27.24)

Opening statement:

“Alright. How are you all doing? So, for the past several weeks, we’ve really spent most of our time just kind of examining our operation from A to Z. Everything from what we do schematically, what we’re doing from a roster perspective, and everything that we’re doing operationally to provide resources and support our players. So we’re pretty excited to get to this point in Indianapolis where it’s really our first look with the draft class–guys that we’ve been scouting and trying to get to know for the past two years. We get to spend some time face-to-face and get to know them more intimately. So it’s always a really exciting time for us on the college scouting side. And then it’s also been really neat over the past several weeks just to integrate Ken (Dorsey) and our new offensive coaches, see that staff come together and the work that they’ve done really early in this offseason has been excellent. So we come in looking really with a mind for improvement. That really has to be our focus every season, regardless of how we end, because it’s a really competitive league and we know our other 31 competitors are doing the exact same thing. So with that, I’ll open it up for questions.”


This offseason you talked about that human side. Why is that human side important to you?

“Do I seem not cold to you? I’m kidding. I can’t control the professional reputation other than my role. I believe in doing everything that’s in the best interest of the organization. And in my role at times that does lead to very difficult decisions, particularly from a roster standpoint. But for us, the human element really is first and foremost, both in terms of how we treat our players, how we treat our coaches. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have difficult conversations or have to make some difficult judgments. But at the end of the day, we are dealing with human beings, and that’ll always be first and foremost.”


Andrew, is there anything new to report on the Nick Chubb situation? Any progress at making an agreement or restructuring?

“Yeah, it’s a good question, Tony (Grossi). And I understand that Nick is a popular discussion point. I meant what I said about him at the end of the season, any conversations that we have with him or his reps honestly will stay between us. If anything were to change with the status, you guys will be the first to know when that does happen.”


Andrew, as far as his progress, how much do you have any update on where he is at in that recovery?

“Yeah, Chris (Easterling), he’s done a great job. You guys know Nick. He works his tail off. He does everything in his power to make sure that he can recover as quickly as possible. It still is very early and we’re what, six months away from training camp. So to say anything more definitively than I did in the middle of January, it would probably be inaccurate.”


Can Deshaun (Watson) begin throwing sometime before camp, in a couple of weeks from now?

“Yeah, Mary Kay (Cabot), that is accurate. Deshaun will begin throwing next month. He’s worked his tail off in terms of his rehab and recovery. He’s in a really good place. We’re excited when the spring hits and we can get him back on the field, but he’s making really good progress and we’re really excited to see that continue.”


Andrew, last year you told me age is not a guardrail, but in the last three years, we have half the number of underclassmen entering the draft. How does that affect the draft for you, and does that change the value of some of the draft picks, especially later in the draft?

“No, not necessarily. I think the way that we look at any prospect’s profile is really as a combination of a number of different factors. So we don’t really go into looking as a vacuum, and so let’s take age specifically. It’s not like, ‘Okay, hey, if you’re X years old, you’re off the board or we’re not going to consider you.’ Really, we do try and take each player individually and consider all the circumstances, risk factors, things that make that prospect unique and ultimately place a value on that individual from there.”


Andrew, with the jump in the salary cap first, did you guys expect it to be close to that much? And the fact that it is a record, does that affect anything for you guys?

“So good question, Scott (Petrak). I think where the salary cap landed, that was in the range of our projections. I can’t say that we have the number pinpointed. I wouldn’t say that it has a fundamental impact in terms of our planning, but obviously there are more available dollars across the league, so that could impact markets accordingly as you think about free agency and extension.”


How do you guys value receivers as they age?

“Honestly, we just look at it historically in the sense that each position has maybe what we would call a different aging curve. And then even within the position, there may be a subset of aging curves based on the style of player or the specific risk factors that they have in their career. So there’s not necessarily a blanket formula for deciding when receivers may decrease their production as they go further in their career. But we do try and take, I guess, an approach with different cohorts of likely profiled individuals.”


What is the greatest value of getting a receiver of getting a receiver early?

“I’m going to give you the same response I give every year on the draft class. There are good players across all rounds, across all positions.”


Andrew, in your development through the NFL, are there any books you can pinpoint that would play into your philosophy as a general manager? 

“As a general manager, I wouldn’t say necessarily a book that necessarily played into my philosophy as a general manager. What I would point out, probably just in terms of my personal life and professional career, there’s a book called ‘Ordering Your Private World’ by Gordon McDonald. It’s actually something my pastor recommended to me a couple years ago. It really totally changed my approach in terms of balancing the personal and professional constraints or weights that come on trying to be a general manager, trying to be a good husband and be a good father and all those things. That really had a huge impact on my life.”


Andrew, given you guys won 11 games this year with all those different quarterbacks. Joe Flacco obviously. What was the decision to move on from Alex Van Pelt?

“Yeah. You know what? It’s something that Kevin (Stefanski) has addressed previously in other press conferences; I really don’t have much more to say than that.”


Do you think that going forward there’s going to be more players that are going to not go to college because they can go straight to CFL?

“No, I actually think that’s a one-off. I think, as you all get to know Quantez throughout the spring, you’ll realize that his path and his story was pretty unique. I would say that that young man, in terms of everything that he overcame and managed over the last four or five years has been nothing short of outstanding. So even if he ends up not being a Cleveland Brown, he’s one of those guys that you just kind of root for and want to see him have all the success in the world. When get to the NFL.”


You have three offensive tackles coming off of season-ending injuries, do you anticipate them all being ready for April 15?

“Probably too early to say April 15. We do anticipate them being ready for the season, Tony. They all have different injuries, so different time horizons for their recovery, but all three of them have been working hard. All three of them are progressing as appropriate, and we do anticipate having them available to us throughout the season.”


Can he assess the running game last season without Nick Chubb?

“We were pleased with how the running game turned out throughout the year. Obviously, Nick (Chubb) is one in a million and maybe one in a billion and so we’re not going to get the consistent, explosive runs that you get with the best back in football. But we also do firmly believe that the run game is predominantly predicated on strength of the offensive line and then the actual scheme. Obviously, when you have a difference maker like Nick and someone who can create at the level that he can, he can truly elevate that area of the game. But we did have to learn to run without him and were able to do it effectively enough. But obviously Nick is a difference maker.”


Do you think it showed Kevin’s strengths?

“Yeah, so good question, Mary Kay. We really just look at what’s the best thing for the team and how we think about roles from that perspective. Kevin will have a good beat on that. Ultimately that will be his decision, but we really will feel good whichever way it lands.”


Are you more inclined to keep your second round pick this year?

“I’m afraid to answer that question either way, Tony. You know me, I can’t keep money in my pocket. So, we’ll see how it goes over the next couple of weeks. I can’t predict that right now.”


What did you like about Ken philosophically?

“We were really excited about Ken. Ken is smart, former high-level quarterback in college, NFL quarterback. Played in a number of different leagues, a number of different systems, and then actually transitioned into the non-playing side as a pro scout before working with Cam (Newton) as his quarterback coach. Obviously, the work that he did with Josh and Buffalo was outstanding, coordinated a top five offense over two seasons in Buffalo. And so, the allure to Ken was his varied experience, his varied experience in a number of different offenses, working with different styles of quarterbacks, and then ultimately just his work sample as a coordinator. We thought he fit us and our players. We love his expertise in the spread and RPO game and drop-back world as well. And we think that he’s a fantastic addition to the staff.”


When we talked to Ken, he talked about how extensive that interview process was. How important is that to you? What did you learn about him that you didn’t know?

“So, I think our interview process is very thorough and that’s not just for Ken or the offensive coordinator position. That’s for any employee that we hire that could be our head of equipment. That was me when I was interviewing for the general manager position, and largely because if you just maybe step back for a second. Alright, like, if you have a multibillion-dollar organization and you’re hiring like a CEO position or COO position or a department head, think about the time and effort that would take to go into vetting candidates that would perform that function in your organization. And that’s really how we think about it with our organization–with the Browns. So Ken’s right, he went through a battery of different items and he came out standing and we’re really excited about it.”


Was it necessary to discuss Ken’s angry outburst in the booth in Buffalo?

“It’s a good question, Tony. I think that number one, I would say about this, I always think it’s maybe a little bit short sighted for people to judge an individual off of one of their weaker moments–a moment of emotion. Ken is uber-competitive, you should ask the Buffalo guys, he’s like an urban legend when it comes to pickup hoops in terms of how competitive he is. But we have no concerns about him being able to manage the players, manage the coaches, manage himself. I love having competitive coaches. I love having competitive players, and he’s going to fit in really well with us.”


How do you balance fears when it comes to injuries at the quarterback position?

“You don’t have to worry about us living our fears. Injuries are part of the game so that really won’t change our function. Obviously, it’s something that we’ve looked at pretty intently over the last couple of weeks because of the volume of injuries that we’ve had and making sure we’re doing everything in our power to maximize player availability. But in terms of being worried about that–it’s football.”


What’s it like being GM in the midst of all this change in your organization?

“I think the only constant in the NFL is change, realistically, whether you’re successful or unsuccessful. I think that the way we look at it is we love having stability, and I love working with Kevin on a consistent basis, but that won’t always mean continuity. Just like we talked about earlier, over the past couple of weeks, our mind is towards improvement, and sometimes that can lead to change. And so that’ll really be our mindset every year as we go into the offseason. What are the things that we can do? Add, subtract, and change that will allow us ultimately to reach a Super Bowl.”


What’s your vantage point on your brother Adam being in the Philadelphia Eagles Front office?

“It’s been pretty cool, honestly it’s been really neat. I’m super proud of him. I know I’m biased, but I think he’s really good and he’s a pretty fast learner. Pretty good looking, too, that type of thing. But he loves it in Philly. He’s learning from the best GM in the sport, the best front office in the sport. And I’m really pleased to see his progress so far.”


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