Andrew Berry plans to be aggressive in acquiring talent

BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Things are different this time around for Andrew Berry, who returns to the Cleveland Browns following a year away in Philadelphia with the Eagles front office.

This time his role is different.

The roster is different.

The organization is once again different.

And his philosophy as executive vice president of football operations and general manager will likely be different from his predecessors too.

“We want to aggressively add talent,” Berry said Wednesday morning as he was introduced as the fifth top football executive hired by owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam.

How the 32-year old Berry builds the roster as the NFL's youngest top football executive remains to be seen.

His previous two bosses took opposite approaches, by design. John Dorsey quickly built through a multitude of trades the last two years while Sashi Brown built through the collection of draft picks and cap space from 2016-17.

“We are not going to limit ourselves to one method of player acquisition,” Berry said. “If we can be targeted and strategic on the free agent market, we are going to be aggressive there. If there is anything that I want to be defined by, it is aggression. We want to aggressively acquire talent because that is the name of the game from an NFL front office perspective, and we are going to explore every avenue that enables us to do that.”

Berry understands he is forever tied to the disaster that was 1-31 from 2016-17 when he served as vice president of player personnel under Brown, but the philosophy today as he takes over as EVP and GM differs 180 degrees from the one employed four years ago.

“The reality of it is, that stretch is a very painful period for our fans, for the city and for everybody internally in the organization,” Berry said. “I can assure you that all of us that were there during that time period were equally disappointed with the results during that time. Now, the one thing I can say is that the team and the organization is at a much different state than it was heading into that 2016 season, whether it was the foundation of the roster or the overall strategy.”

Berry was in the room for draft misses like Corey Coleman, Cody Kessler and Jordan Payton.

He was also in the room when the Browns hit on Myles Garrett, Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward and Nick Chubb.

“Being among the senior leaders in that group, just as you may share some credit with some of the successes, you also have to share some culpability with things that do not go as well, and that is not something that I am going to hide from or run from,” Berry said. “But I am looking forward to certainly establishing my own track record as the primary decision maker moving forward.”

Unlike 2016, this is not a roster tear down and rebuild in 2020.

“There is no secret that the strategy at the time was to accumulate assets, whether it was cap space, picks and players, that would lead to a foundation of long-term success,” Berry said, “but I can assure you that winning is at the forefront of everyone’s minds in the organization. We are looking forward to pursuing that over the next several months.”

The Browns will pick 10th in April but Berry made clear the days of playing for draft position will not return under his watch as he aims to build off what he believes to be a strong foundation and core of young players.

Berry also explained his vision and philosophy in attempt to ease fans' concerns the front office would rely more on analytics as the basis for making decisions considering the strong influence that chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta seems to possess.

“We will be a scouting-centered front office because I have always believed and I continue to believe scouting to be the lifeblood of roster building in the NFL,” Berry said.

The hiring of Berry completes the Haslam’s vision of alignment with DePodesta and head coach Kevin Stefanski, but collaboration has always sounded much better in Berea than it has been practiced under the Haslams.

“It can’t just be corporate speak or talk,” Berry said. “It has to be something that we demonstrate in action on a daily basis. We understand that is part of our responsibilities, and that is something we are going to work together to do every day.”