Executive Vice President of Football Operations & General Manager Andrew Berry (7.30.21)

Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry:

Opening statement:

“First of all, it is good to see you guys live and in person instead of through a computer through Zoom. It is good to be back here at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus preparing for the upcoming season. We are super excited to have our fans back in the stands for the first time in a year. They bring a special kind of energy for really our players and really everybody in the organization. I think we all know we have the best fans in the NFL. We are excited to welcome them back this afternoon. I actually want to start by saying how proud I am of our organization for really navigating everything through the pandemic. We all realize that it is not over, but we do see a little bit of a light at the end of the tunnel. A lot of people have contributed to making this a good environment for our players, our coaches, our staff and our fans to come back to our facilities so we are excited about that. I think a lot of people have been involved in making sure that the right information is out there regarding the vaccines. One hundred percent of our coaches and support staff are vaccinated, and over 90 percent of our players are fully vaccinated or are finishing out the last phases of the process. We are excited to be out here and get going over the next couple of weeks as we prepare for the season.”


On hiring Bob Quinn as a senior consultant:

“Bob is someone who I have had a lot of respect for through the past few years really since his time as director of pro for the Patriots, and obviously with his time in Detroit. The former general manager’s perspective is one that I very much value. We have had (senior football advisor) Ryan (Grigson) here twice, and he has been an incredible resource for me. With Bob, everything that he has done across football operations and everything he has seen in the general manager’s seat with Detroit, I just really value his expertise because the reality of it is, yes, I have been a year on the job, but there are still some things that are new situations or things that are going to be new to me in the next few years. To have someone and to have multiple people now who can provide a little bit of a roadmap in that regard proves to be incredibly valuable.”


On what Quinn has said about QB Baker Mayfield’s contract situation:

“I should have known that one was coming (laughter). I understand the question for all of our guys. I think you guys know at this point that with contracts and personal situations I do not think this is the most appropriate setting. In regards to Baker, a good player, an even better person. Can’t have enough people in our locker room who embody those two characteristics on our team.”


On if it is possible that the Browns and Mayfield will sign a contract extension during training camp, referencing DE Myles Garrett signing his extension before camp last year:

“Each situation is unique. I would not read anything into it either way without going into specifics for any individually. I would not read anything into timing for any player.”


On what continuity means to the staff:

“Specific to the offensive side of the ball, we are in a bit of a unique situation where we do return a lot of our guys from last year. When we talked after the season, I mentioned that typically a third of an NFL roster kind of turns over in a given offseason so it is somewhat rare to keep an entire side of the ball intact. We do think that there is a platform for growth for that unit, and we are certainly excited for all of our guys to enter the second consecutive year of the same system. We do look forward to people taking a step forward.”


On how continuity impacts the scouting process and adding players to the roster:

“It is why we got in the business. It is the biggest thing that we do. I know that we have a personnel department that takes an enormous amount of pride in terms of bringing the most talented individuals and people who fit our smart, tough and accountable mold, ultimately with the goal of getting the best team possible.”


On if the Browns are more selective now when going after players this offseason due to the success of the team last year compared to past years:

“I would tell you that you can never have enough talent. Whether it is through changes for players throughout their career, injuries or you name it, kind of your needs today are not necessarily your needs tomorrow. For us, I do not think the approach really changes based on where we are with our team’s life cycle. We are always looking for good players and good people.”


On his general approach for negotiating extensions once a season starts:

“For us, we are not that dogmatic in any particular philosophy in that regard so I would not read anything into timing.”


On if the general manager’s job gets tougher when a QB is on a veteran deal, given the advantages from a salary cap standpoint of having a QB on a rookie contract:

“It does present some unique challenges. I would hesitate to say that the job gets tougher because we fully believe that you can build a championship team, whether it is quarterback is on a rookie deal or build a championship team whether a quarterback is on a veteran deal. It does create different tradeoffs, but no different than any high price player.”


On if there is concern about potential for hard feelings when a contract extension does not get done when a player is expecting one:

“I think it probably depends a little bit on the individual and the communication between the team and player. I think you have probably seen it both ways through different examples throughout the league. It is one thing that we certainly try to do our best to communicate with all of our guys whether it is a contract situation or not, but we certainly understand that sensitivity.”


On considering a potential free agent’s vaccination status when making decisions:

“Honestly, what I am focused on with roster decisions is how players produce between the white lines and how well they conduct themselves as present professionals outside of the white lines. That is it.”


On if he considers vaccination status when bringing players in for a tryout:

“Same thing – how they are on the field and how they conduct themselves away from the building.”


On the intent behind preserving cap space:

“For us – I think this is something I have tried to communicate before – part of my job is to have a little bit of a foot in the present and a little bit of a foot in the future because there is certainly this year’s team, but also making sure that we are both managing the roster and managing our resources, whether that is picks or dollars, in a manner that allows us to have sustained success.”


On challenges with the salary cap this offseason being impacted by COVID-19:

“I would say over the past 18 months, it has definitely played a factor into our planning. The reality of it is the cap went down almost $18 million this past year. Even moving forward, it is probably going to be $30 million dollars less than everybody projected about a year and a half ago. That does create some changes in terms of how you think about longer-term roster planning, but none of those challenges are insurmountable.”


On Mayfield’s familiarity with the coaching staff and system:

“Baker has entered with a phenomenal mindset and a ton of comfort. I know we are all very excited for him to have a bit of stability because it is probably like all of us in our jobs, right? Where if you are doing something repetitively or you have a little bit of a foundation from prior experience, it just makes you that much more comfortable, and that is something that we certainly noticed.”


On if Mayfield has taken more ownership over the offense as confidence grows:

“I will let Baker speak to that. As you mentioned, he is a super confident guy and we think he is in a great spot.”


On if he feels the Browns have a shortened window of opportunity for success, particularly given the team currently has two top WRs in Beckham and Jarvis Landry and RBs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt:

“I do not necessarily think that is the case. At the end of the day, our job as a front office is to make sure that we can be as competitive as possible in the present year and competitive as often as possible over time. I do not know that I view that we are in any type of unique circumstance in that regard, but it is obviously something that we are mindful of.”


On what it will take for the team to reach the Super Bowl level beyond a quality playoff team:

“I do not know that I have a direct answer for that. Honestly, as long as our guys are working out with our staff, really focusing on what they can control and improving every day, I think we will look up and we will be in a really good spot. I think we have the right individuals in this locker room. I know that we have the right individuals on the sideline. All we are going to do is put our head down and work, and we will figure out from there.”


On the impact WR Odell Beckham Jr. can have on the offense’s ceiling:

“Odell is a dynamic player. He adds a dimension to our offense when he is on the field. We are obviously looking forward to his return this season. I answered the question earlier, we want as many talented individuals as possible, and I think Odell is one of the more talented players in that position in the league.”


On LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah missing the start of his first training camp:

“It is less than ideal for really any player to miss the beginning of camp, but you are right, particularly a first-year player. With that being said, between the work that Tarv (linebackers coach Jason Tarver), (run Game Coordinator) Ben Bloom and Jeremiah did this spring and how engaged he has been in the meetings and virtual walkthroughs through this point, I know he is doing everything in his power to make sure that he does not fall behind. Look, it is less than ideal. It is a little bit of adversity, but it is also not a death sentence.”


On if he ever watches practice and wonders how WR Donovan Peoples-Jones fell to the sixth round:

“We are pleased with Donovan’s progress. Obviously, he played an important role for us at the end of last year, and we are looking forward to continued growth. He has come in in great shape. We will see kind of how everything shakes out over the course of camp.”


On RB Demetric Felton practicing at RB and WR during training camp:

“One of the things that was attractive to us with Demetric when we drafted him was just his versatility. We do view his primary position at running back, but his ability to actually have legitimate position flex and create mismatches is something that we value. He has proven really since he got drafted just how smart he is because that is a really hard thing to do for any player, let alone a first-year player learning a new system. It is a credit to him. We are looking forward to seeing how he progresses throughout camp.”


On if the Browns would like more games to evaluate Mayfield in the second year of Stefanski’s system or if the team has enough information about Mayfield now:

“We feel really good with Baker’s progress. He has made a ton of growth both on and off of the field. We are looking forward to him having another impressive season.”


On LB Jacob Phillips and DT Jordan Elliot, who played some but not a ton their rookie seasons:

“With all young players, in particular first-year players, you see the biggest growth from rookie year to second year. Really not just specific to Jacob and Jordan but all of the rookies in that class, as they now have their sea legs and know what to expect and grow into bigger roles, whether it is on offense or defense, we really do expect all of our guys to take a step forward.”


On K Cody Parkey’s performance in practice yesterday, the Browns K competition and the significance of a Browns K having more experience at FirstEnergy Stadium, given the challenges the wind presents compared to other NFL stadiums:

“I am not overly concerned with Cody. He has a long track record through two stints here of doing a nice job in situations that matter. He missed a couple of kicks yesterday – we all have off days – but I do not think we need to over evaluate.”


On if the Browns need to stabilize the K position:

“I think everybody wants a stable, good kicker. I think Cody proved that for us last year.”


On T Chris Hubbard returning from a season-ending injury:

“He really worked his tail off in rehab to get back. Our medical staff did a phenomenal job with him this year. Honestly, he looks healthy and he is looking great. We are expecting him to play well.”


On if he is surprised Beckham is as healthy as he is now and able to run and cut in this fashion:

“You hear a lot of, ‘Hey, this guy looks great coming off of an injury.’ Odell, honestly, he is like a freak of nature sometimes. It really is amazing the amount of work that he put in and where he is today. That is a huge credit to really his focus and dedication over the offseason.”


On how the Browns balance cutting Beckham loose now because he appears to be in great shape with ensuring Beckham does do too much too soon:

“That is pretty easy for us just because we really do defer to the expertise of our medical and performance staff. That is something that we will listen to the docs, we will listen to the trainers and we will listen to the performance staff and go by their data and their recommendation because the last thing that we want to do with any player coming back from injury is load them too quickly and then ultimately have them have a setback. That will be pretty easy for us.”


On adding DEs Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley this year after looking to acquire them in past seasons:

“Any player, whether it is your own roster or across the league, we evaluate within the context of the present year. Certainly, taking into account some history, but players do change over time. With any acquisition, it is not this, ‘Hey, we liked this guy three, four or five years ago.’ It is with all of the present day production, talent or you name it factors involved. We obviously liked both of those guys, acquired both of those guys and think that they have strong roles to play for us.”


On if some NFL scouts may potentially overvalue a player due to liking him in previous years:

“Yeah, I think it could happen. I would not say that is something that I have not seen before throughout my career, but we do try and make sure that we do everything possible to make sure that we can eliminate blind spots within our evaluation process.”


On the next step for Mayfield to take in his career:

“Honestly, just continue to work with Kevin and the offensive staff and continue to gain mastery of the offensive system and gain more comfort into it. Honestly, all he needs to do is work and perform. He is going to be fine.”


On how QB Case Keenum has helped Mayfield’s development:

“I think Case really has played a strong role. No. 1, we brought Case here because he is a good player. We feel very good if, heaven forbid, something were to happen to Baker that Case could step in and get the job done. Obviously, his intimate knowledge of the offense, the amount of organizations that he has played in and just his whole history in the league – honestly, it is almost a little bit like when I was talking about to Bob Quinn a little bit earlier – he can provide a little bit of a professional roadmap at certain critical points. I think Case has been able to serve that for Baker throughout the past year.”


On if he has input with Stefanski on players’ playing time in preseason games:

“That ultimately is Kevin’s decision. It is something that really with every big decision or even minor decision we stay in pretty good communication. I have total trust in Kevin and our coaching staff. That is their domain, that is their expertise and they will make the best decision to get the team prepared to play.”


On if he is concerned about the different protocols among vaccinated and unvaccinated players:

“No, not really. It is really not an issue that we are really looking to have divide our team. There are strong protocols in place for people who choose to be vaccinated and those who choose not to be. We will strictly comply to both. Ultimately, it is a personal choice for individuals. That is not something that we are really focused on. I think our team is in a really good spot in terms of coming together, bonding and embracing the work that we need to do to be ready for our season opener.”


On if there is concern that the protocols may not be enough or could change, given continued changes with COVID-19 and new variants:

“I think that is something that we will continue to monitor and I know the league will continue to monitor as the science evolves. We dealt with a lot of that, quite frankly, last year so I think we are pretty accustomed to. I would say we, not only the Browns but the NFL, are accustomed to being very adaptable. We will adjust as necessary to make sure that everybody is as safe as possible.”


On G Wyatt Teller’s and S Ronnie Harrison Jr.’s contract situation:

“It is the same thing I would say with the other guys – good players, good people and can’t have enough of those guys in the locker room. Will not talk about any personal contract situation, but we certainly do value those guys.”


On if it is exciting or challenging to have so many good players coming up on contract years:

“Those are always good problems to have as a GM. It certainly does create challenges at certain points in the year, but that is part of the job. Again, like I said, those are those are good problems to have if you have as many good players as possible.”


On if there is pressure on unvaccinated players to get vaccinated, specifically referencing other NFL teams:

“I can’t speak to other teams. What we try and do is make sure that everybody has the information possible. We feel like we are in a really good spot. To me if guys are here, we are focused on them performing and putting their best foot forward.”


On if he considers the preseason games to be a significant evaluation period:

“It is always good to see young players and players fighting for roster spots under the lights in real game action. Practices are incredibly important. We are excited for our joint practices with the Giants here in a couple of weeks, as well, but it is always good to get some live game exposure, as well.”


On why he believes Mayfield and Beckham will be more efficient together this season:

“A lot goes into that to be to be quite honest. Again, a new system, a unique year, a shortened offseason and both of those guys are really good players. We think bringing Odell back can add a dimension to our offense. They have worked together really well at this early juncture in training camp. We are excited to see what they do.”


On his respect for the knowledge of former personnel staff and players who came before him like Quinn or Keenum:

“I think when you mess up enough, you can get a pretty good sense for people who have come before us. That is the honest truth. When you look at your mistakes, you are like, ‘How could I have prevented that in the past?’ or ‘How can I prevent that in the future.’ Sometimes it is like being a better listener and listening to people who have a bit more wisdom than me. It is a big reason why I have that perspective.”


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