Andrew Berry enters year two as the Cleveland Browns general manager and met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss the upcoming offseason.
For the first time in a while, the Cleveland Browns are not introducing a new head coach and/or general manager ahead of NFL free agency and the draft. Instead, they’re returning GM Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski following a successful 2020 campaign.
And now, Berry sat down with the media and opened up about what to expect from the team going forward.
One of the early things that out in Berry’s opening statement was he was excited to not be in a transition period, something Browns fans are all too familiar with.
Berry would not speak publicly on a lot of things, one of those being if Cleveland will pick up the fifth-year option on quarterback Baker Mayfield ahead of the May 3 deadline. Berry said that Mayfield showed a lot of maturation and growth, both on and off the field, in 2020.
He expects Mayfield to continue to grow in year two of the offense. Berry also said the Browns wouldn’t use the situations of Jared Goff and Carson Wentz to act as any sort of blueprint as to what they will do.
All signs point to Mayfield’s option being picked up and him taking another step or two in the offensive system. Remember, Cleveland does not have to rush to get him signed to an extension.
When asked about wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s recovery from a knee injury, Berry said he is “right on track” and went on to discuss OBJ’s role in the offense and whether or not it would change this upcoming season.
"“No, I think he is a dynamic player who can be incredibly productive in this system so we are looking forward to getting him back healthy.” — Berry said via a video shared by Anthony Poisal of ClevelandBrowns.com"
Fellow wide receiver Rashard Higgins is set to become a free agent but has openly stated he wants to return to The Land. Berry said they would like to have Higgins back as well.
"“I will not touch on the specific dialogue we have had, but I think it suffices it to say we would like to have Rashard back. He obviously played a key role for us this past year and we have a really positive history with him. Look, free agency can be difficult, and obviously, he has earned the right to make the decision that is most appropriate for him. We will maintain consistently good communication with him and his reps. We will see where it goes,” Berry said."
Another receiver of sorts is tight end David Njoku, who has a lot of uncertainty moving forward. Last season he requested a trade out of Cleveland, did not get it, but did not let that affect his role on the team. He handled it with true class and professionalism. Berry said he was a “very young, productive player” and said he played well for the Browns last season. Time will tell what happens with the Browns, but hopefully what that is, makes him happy.
Of course, Berry was asked about his aggressiveness in pursuit of defensive end J.J. Watt, who recently signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Berry would not discuss any player on another team’s roster, and that was absolutely the right thing to say. There is no need for him to comment on something that is now a thing of the past.
There are plenty of other options for Berry and the Browns to explore if they choose to look for another defense end/EDGE rusher to pair opposite of Myles Garrett, which seems to be a priority.
A question about how much urgency there was to lock up running back Nick Chubb to a long-term deal came up and Berry said he and the Browns like Chubb as both a player and person. He went on to say that Chubb was one of many big decisions Cleveland will have to make and figure out over the next several months.
This is a tricky situation as running backs typically don’t live up to the second-contract expectations. Chubb is certainly one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL, but would it be worth it for the Browns to ink him to a long-term, big-money extension? The obvious answer, based on his play, would be absolutely yes. But again, Berry and company have to weigh the options of what is best for the team moving forward.
At the end of the day, Berry said a lot, without really saying too much. It is never good to reveal your plans for others to possibly steal and Berry did a fantastic job navigating all of the questions asked. He said multiple times he wouldn’t speak in specifics, and nor should he. All internal discussions, regardless of what they may be, should be just that, internal.
Berry had a lot of success in his first year as the Browns general manager, so fans should be confident he can have a second-consecutive stellar offseason to improve this team’s chance of making a Super Bowl run. It will be interesting to see how creative and flexible Berry and company use the salary cap, which is taking a hit across the league this season.