The Cleveland Browns built one of the best front offices in football last off-season, and it appears that the group will stay together in 2019.
All of the talk about the Cleveland Browns this off-season was about the search for their new head coach and the staff built under head coach Freddie Kitchens.
But one of the more surprising situations for the Browns this off-season was how their entire front office was able to stay intact. Cleveland boasts multiple intelligent executives, and them not getting a bigger opportunity elsewhere was a surprise.
Following the hiring of John Dorsey as general manager in 2017, the Browns front office was renovated. Gone was most of the most analytics group that Sashi Brown built. However, Dorsey did keep Andrew Berry and Paul DePodesta, two of the more important members of Brown’s executive group.
In today’s NFL, it is important to have an analytics department and use it to complement the talent evaluations from the “football guys.” And Dorsey made sure he brought in two of the best at evaluating talent last off-season, adding Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith, previously of the Green Bay Packers.
Dorsey worked with both during his time in Green Bay, so he was familiar with their work. When Cleveland added Wolf and Highsmith to their front office, it drew rave reviews from those that cover the league.
With how strong of a front office that the Browns built, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that there would be some changes in a year or two since teams would want to hire members of the Browns front office. However, that did not happen this off-season.
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It was a surprising twist to the start of this off-season when there were no general managers fired at the end of the season. The only general manager change was in Oakland, with the Raiders replacing Reggie McKenzie with Mike Mayock.
Since no general manager jobs became available at the end of the season, Cleveland will have its key members of the front office return for the 2019 season. And that is important for the Browns, as the group did well in finding talent during its first season together.
Wolf would have been a hot name for general manager openings. He has interviewed for multiple general manager vacancies in the past, but has never taken a job. He even pulled his name out of the running for the San Francisco 49ers general manager vacancy during the 2017 off-season. Of anyone in the Browns front office, Wolf will be the first to receive an offer to become a general manager somewhere.
Ultimately, Dorsey will make the final decision on what roster moves the team makes. But he will rely heavily on the word of his front office, and trusting the people in room is important for a general manager. With how well he knows Wolf, Highsmith, and now the others, he will be able to trust their opinions on players.
That is why it is important that Dorsey was able to keep his front office together for this off-season. The process of adding talent is going to be smoother now that the entire group has built a solid chemistry. Dorsey does know enough people around the league, which would have made it easier to find a replacement if any of his front office members took a job elsewhere. But it would take a little while to get them adjusted to the process of how the Browns handle talent evaluation.
It may not be the hot topic of the off-season, but the Browns front office staying intact was key for them. They have been working all year on evaluating the available talent this off-season, and Dorsey and the Browns do not have to worry about that work going to a different organization.
There is no guarantee that Cleveland will be able to keep the entire front office together next off-season as well. But for the immediate future, the front office staying the same will pay dividends for the Browns.