Executive Vice President of Football Operations & General Manager Andrew Berry (1.11.22)

Opening statement: 

“I actually wanted to start off by just thanking our players, coaches and football staff for all of the time and energy they put into this last season. Look, we did not get the job done this year, and we are all disappointed that we did not meet our own internal expectations and that we are not playing meaningful football this weekend. Ultimately, we were just too inconsistent in really all three phases throughout the season. Again, we are all disappointed that we did not reach our goals this year. That all being said, we do believe that we have a lot of core pieces on the roster and within football operations that would allow us to have success moving forward. Speaking of moving forward, just to talk a little bit about what the next few weeks will look like for us, really internally we will really review everything. We will do kind of a postmortem from the season and review everything across the roster, our cap and cash situation across football operations and (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) will review the coaching staff and everything we did schematically with really the goal for improving in 2022. We all wish that 2022 could start next month because I think the toughest part of today is the fact that we are not going to play meaningful football games for another nine months, and I think that leaves a pretty sour taste in all of our mouths. That is something we really want to work hard to eradicate and again make sure that we are playing meaningful football this time of year.”


On if QB Baker Mayfield is expected to be the Browns’ starting QB in 2022:

“We fully expect Baker to be our starter and bounce back. I think Kevin mentioned this yesterday so yes.”


On his conversation with Mayfield in exit interviews about areas to improve in 2022, in addition to recovering from injury:

“It is a good question. Respectfully, any kind of one-on-one meeting that I would have with a player, that would remain between the player and myself. Generally speaking, we are looking forward to Baker obviously getting healthy in the offseason and then putting good work into the spring and with his coaches for having the type of season we know he can have moving forward.”


On the decision to play Mayfield while battling through injury:

“Kevin did mention this yesterday and I talked about this a little bit at the bye, medically cleared, the player feels good and can perform everything that is asked of him and required of him in practice. Baker was our starting quarterback. He was going to play if he was ready to go. I do not think it is any more complicated than that.”


On if in retrospect Mayfield’s playing time should have been handled differently:

“I think probably any season where you do not reach your goals, you look back and examine everything. We felt good about the information that we had throughout the year and on hand. I think the reality of it is we all wish that we and everybody across the team were able to perform better and allow us to reach the playoffs this year.”


On the process of evaluating a player’s performance when playing through injury:

“Every situation is unique, based on the injury obviously and the role the player faces. I think the reality is that you get to late in the year and really everybody is fighting through something – certainly, of different severity. I do not mean to minimize one injury versus another. It really is on a case-by-case basis, and you try to take all of the information into account and make a fair judgement.”


On evaluating the struggles Mayfield had this season and confidence that Mayfield will be able to bounce back in 2022:

“I think it is easy to forget this point of year that what we have seen with Baker over the past several years, obviously he had his most productive season in this offense under Kevin as early as last year. We have been with Baker for a long period of time at this point. We know his work ethic, we know his drive and we have seen him as a talented passer in this league. We are looking forward to him getting healthy and continuing to make improvements. We expect him to bounce back next year.”


On if the Browns feel a need to bring in another QB to push Mayfield:

“I have mentioned this before in terms of how we look at the offseason, we do not go into it and say, ‘Hey, we are just going to target certain positions.’ We scout and look at player availability as if we have an expansion team so the way we go about adding competition or improving the talent base and the roster is largely, maybe not wholly, but largely independent of who is currently on the team.”


On the chemistry between Browns offensive players and defensive players and how to continue to improve it, given comments from some players in post-season interviews yesterday:

“A couple of things along those lines – it is a good question – I think a year ago I might have mentioned that generally speaking every year is unique in the NFL. A big reason is because regardless of if you make it to the Super Bowl or you are the 32nd team in football, every team has a fair amount of significant roster turnover. I think it is on average maybe one-third per year. What comes with that is constantly reinforcing the team culture because you really do have to work at it from the beginning of every year because there are a number of guys who will not have been with you the previous season. That being said, I think what you can see when you are not having results is frustration. Everybody puts a ton of time, energy and effort into this thing, and it is frustrating for everybody if you do not reach your goals, which we did not this season. That being said, I think shared success, performance and work ethic, that is really the goal to improve that and make sure we hit that mark. That is first and foremost as opposed to anything. I think that shared success oftentimes leads to the chemistry and working relationships. That is really the focus first and foremost as we go into the next few weeks.”


On continuing to invest more resources into player resources and helping prevent soft-tissue and other injuries, given S John Johnson III’s comments yesterday, including about bringing in a yoga instructor, understanding limits due to COVID-19 protocols:

“Probably two separate things. John and I actually talked about this yesterday before he left. You are right, we have made some pretty significant investments within football operations and within player development and sports science. I think the reality of it is what we have seen the past two years with the tier limits because of COVID-19 protocols in place, you do have to make some – ‘cuts’ is probably the wrong word – decisions, particularly with some certain outside practitioners that you would not necessarily normally have those restrictions in a year when you are not playing in a pandemic. Because of those limits, some of the services that we would bring in out of the building, we have not been able to in probably a year or two, but it is something that is certainly top of mind for us. Every year, we do go through an injury and particularly a soft-tissue injury audit, and I think our medical and performance groups are pretty good at staying on the cutting edge of those things. As you alluded to, teams that can stay healthy, that is a huge competitive advantage in our sport, and it is something we want to make sure we are doing everything in our power to do.”


On if it is his job to evaluate every opportunity to potentially upgrade the QB position no matter what others may feel about the situation and if there is risk associated with that:

“Probably the simple answer to the question is my job is to assemble the best team possible and make sure that we are in the position to compete consistently for the division, to be in the playoffs and ultimately win a championship. That is something that we will strive to do every year.”


On if the expectation is to move forward with Mayfield’s fifth-year option without a contract extension this offseason and if the relationship between Stefanski, Mayfield and him can continue to work moving forward:

“I probably address this a little bit earlier. Like I said, we fully expect Baker to bounce back. In terms of any conversations that would happen with me and Baker or Kevin and Baker, really those will stay there. I do not have any concerns in terms of relationship or anything along those lines. I think it is pretty natural to have discussions around scheme as you go into any offseason. Those discussions have happened and will continue to happen with the appropriate parties.”


On if the Browns are comfortable playing Mayfield in 2022 without a new contract:

“We have a lot of guys who will have gone into their final [contract] year or something along those lines. That is not something that really goes into the calculus for us. Every year, you will have guys on expiring deals.”


On if it is uncomfortable having a ‘lame duck’ QB entering 2022:

“I do not know that I would categorize it that way. Again, you have a number of players across positions that are entering the final years of their deals. That is not something that is really top of mind for me.”


On if the Browns need to see more production from the WRs and if it is a priority to upgrade that position in the offseason:

“It is a good question. Again, I think that is really across the roster. That is what the next couple of weeks are going to be for. I told you guys at the bye week that I thought our passing offense was too inconsistent at that point, and I think that remains to be the case as we exit the year. We will pull it apart, look at it and obviously make the necessary changes and improvements that are needed, whether that is externally, internally or schematically.”


On if the Browns will potentially sign more new players to one-year contracts this offseason, given the production of multiple Browns players on one-year deals this past season:

“I would not maybe read too much into that. It really depends on what the contractual status is for players elsewhere on your roster and again where you have your cap dollars invested. That is a big part of our cap and cash planning in the upcoming weeks, and you obviously try to match it to player availability, as well.”


On if the Browns would consider drafting a K:

“I would consider anything. My reaction to that is not any hard and fast rule. It probably depends on the player, and it depends on other ways you can acquire talent at the position. No, I would not rule it out.”


On the performance of CB Greg Newsome II and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in their rookie seasons:

“Both of those guys played well. They grew as the season progressed. There is still a lot each guy can improve. We have obviously had that conversation with both individuals as they enter the offseason. Good rookie year, but they are going off into the next several months with targeted areas that they can work on so they can take a step moving forward and be a big piece of what helps us get to the playoffs in 2022.”


On reports that the Browns received requests from the Bears for Vice President of Football Operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Vice President of Player Personnel Glenn Cook to interview for the team’s general manager position, if the team will grant permission for those interviews and the significance of Browns staff members being considered for that type of position:

“It is a good question. I will tell you that I am incredibly excited and proud of both Kwesi and Glenn for having the opportunity to interview for one of the 31 other franchises. Of course, we will always grant requests. Again, in fairness, not that it is our choice to deny it, but regardless, we are thrilled when we have people from our organization who have the chance to interview for one of these opportunities. I know those guys will represent themselves well. Any owner who is looking to hire a general manager, those guys will do a phenomenal job. I am just glad they are interviewing for an NFC team so that I can root for them if they get it (laughter).”


On Mayfield entering a contract year and if it is fair to characterize it as a ‘prove it’ year for Mayfield:

“I think the reality of it is any of us who work in the NFL, every year is a prove-it year. To the contract question in general, I think you guys probably know me well enough that I kind of march to the beat of my own drum in terms of whatever contract precedents are out there so we will deal with each situation on an individual basis.”


On Mayfield’s performance during the final month of the 2021 season, given he said at the bye week that he expected Mayfield’s best play during that timeframe:

“In fairness, he misses two games, plays one game well, one game probably not so well and then probably the third game that he played gets COVID, out two weeks and is there the day of the game. Certainly, those five games did not go the way that we hoped or anticipated, but we expect him to bounce back.”


On evaluating the rookie seasons of T James Hudson III and WR Anthony Schwartz, who potentially were developmental prospects for the 2021 season:

“Really for all rookies – I should say maybe for the overwhelming majority of rookies – and certainly within our class, we saw progress and expect them to take a step forward. James really got baptism by fire throughout this year. I actually think he came along nicely and particularly ended his season in a really strong manner against Cincinnati. I think it is tough for a guy who is a former D lineman, a fourth-round pick and played left tackle and right tackle for us, but it is good experience. Anthony, probably the best thing for him is he battled a lot of adversity this year. He had the injury in camp, came back, fought his way into kind of a part-time role, had the concussion middle of the year that obviously kept him out for several weeks and really kind of battled his way back to get some meaningful snaps at the end. Those guys have the year under the belt now of NFL life. Good conversations with both before they left yesterday. They are highly focused and know the areas that they need to improve, and we are looking forward to seeing what progress they can make when they come back during the spring.”


On if the Browns will discuss during the offseason whether it is best for Stefanski to remain the offensive play caller:

“Mentioned it a little bit earlier in terms of looking at everything because we really do have to go through everything because we did not meet our level of expectations this year. That all being said, feel good about Kevin as a play caller. I think that is something that is one of his strengths. There are a lot of things that we will need to improve over the next several months, and it really all has to work together. I do not think it is any one thing or any silver bullet. That is why we are going to tear it apart and plot the best path to go, whether it is personnel wise, schematically wise or operationally, with an eye towards improvement in 2022.”


On Mayfield’s strengths as a leader and fit with the Browns:

“Baker, he is team oriented. He is a competitor. He is super tough. He truly wants what is best for the team and really to take the steps that he needs to improve to become the quarterback that we know that he can become. Guys who are self-motivated, they are team oriented and they are tough, you certainly like that profile across any position.”


On if the Browns would not be interested this offseason in pursuing other opportunities at QB, given Mayfield is on the roster:

“I know there is a ton of speculation out there. I am not really going to get into that. I think I have been fairly straightforward here on this.”


On DE Jadeveon Clowney, if the Browns want Clowney to return and if Clowney’s strong performance at the end of the season make it tougher to re-sign Clowney:

“JD had a really good season for us, was very productive run and pass and a disruptive player. He paired nicely with the other guys who we had up front, obviously with (DE) Myles (Garrett) being at the forefront. He had a good year. He did the things that we envisioned when we signed him. Good season. Fit in nicely for us. The next several weeks, we will see kind of what the future holds with all of our guys across the roster.”


On CB Denzel Ward’s performance this season:

“Denzel put together a fine year. He made a number of really big plays for us at critical moments of the season. Obviously, we know that he is a local kid drafted and developed here. He put together a really strong season for us so we are pleased with that.”


On WR Jarvis Landry and Landry’s future with the Browns:

“I think everybody on this call knows how much respect we have for Jarvis Landry and really what he has meant for our team and organization over the past several years. He has been a productive player for us really since the day that we traded for him, and he has been really a key piece in terms of how the team and organization has evolved over the last several years.”


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