Andrew Berry

George Paton Out Of Browns’ GM Search

Viewed as the frontrunner to become the Browns’ next general manager, George Paton removed his name from consideration for the position, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (on Twitter).

The Vikings’ assistant GM spent time in Cleveland this week going through a second interview, one that was expected to lead to his joining Kevin Stefanski as the key members of the next Browns power structure. But an organization that has struggled to form continuity under its current ownership will now have to make another plan.

Paton’s withdrawal partially stems from an uncertainty about how the Browns would divvy up power, Cabot adds. The GM, Stefanski and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta are set to report to owner Jimmy Haslam. The Browns operated that way during the Sashi BrownHue Jackson years and are set to return to that arrangement.

A 13-year Vikings executive, Paton has turned down multiple teams who have sought meetings with him for GM vacancies. The selective exec was initially contemplating doing the same to the Browns. His apprehension stemmed from former Browns front office staffer Andrew Berry‘s relationship with Haslam potentially making him the favorite for the job, but Paton took a meeting with Browns ownership because of Stefanski’s presence.

Berry is again the leading candidate for the job, Cabot reports. The Eagles exec is eager to prove he is not a “1-31 football GM,” according to TheLandonDemand.com’s Tony Grossi (Twitter link). It appears Berry is still interested in returning to Cleveland. Berry, who joined Paton and Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort in interviewing for the Browns’ GM role, spent 2016-18 with the Browns before joining the Eagles as VP of football operations last year.

Berry has received interest from the Panthers as well, but the Eagles blocked him interviewing for a non-GM job with Carolina. One of Sashi Brown‘s top lieutenants during the Browns’ new-age front office experiment, Berry remains close to DePodesta. The ex-MLB GM is running the Browns’ GM search. Stefanski and Berry also became acquainted during the Browns’ 2019 coaching search, and Cabot notes the two are still interested in working together.

While the Brown-DePodesta-Berry experiment produced historically terrible results — a 1-31 record from 2016-17 — Haslam retaining DePodesta and bringing Berry back in for an interview confirm the owner remains interested in this analytically geared vision.

The Browns have gone through amazing front office turnover under Haslam. Their most recent regime change involved parting ways with John Dorsey after barely two years. Brown received less time. So did the Michael LombardiJoe Banner power structure. Ray Farmer also did not get two full years on job. Haslam fired Tom Heckert, GM from 2010-12, in his first months as owner.

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Latest On Browns, George Paton

Jan. 22: Paton’s second interview with the Browns will take place today, per Nate Ulirch of the Akron Beacon Journal (via Twitter). Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com, who first reported that Paton was flying to Cleveland today, said we could have a resolution in the next couple of days (Twitter link).

Jan. 20: George Paton has moved to the front of the Browns’ GM search, with the Minnesota-to-Cleveland pairing of Paton-Kevin Stefanski looking like the next Browns power structure.

But the longtime Vikings executive will meet with Browns brass one more time, doing so later this week, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. With the Vikings since 2007, Paton has been selective about his GM future over the past several years. He’s turned down multiple teams’ offers since 2017, so it would certainly be interesting to see Rick Spielman‘s top lieutenant jump ship to one of the NFL’s least stable franchises.

Initially, Paton paused on taking a Browns interview because of the prospect of an Andrew Berry reunion, Cabot adds. But the prospect of working with Stefanski enticed him to take the meeting.

Berry was a Browns exec from 2016-18, coming aboard when Jimmy Haslam brought in Sashi Brown and current chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta to run a new-age front office. But Paton’s first Browns meeting obviously went quite well, and he appears to be leading a field that includes Berry and Patriots exec Monti Ossenfort.

Paton’s Vikings tenure overlapped with Stefanski’s. The new Browns HC also became acquainted with Berry during the John Dorsey-led coaching search that led to Freddie Kitchens taking over. Berry then joined the Eagles’ front office. But a Minneapolis East setup may be the latest in a long line of power structures under Haslam.

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Latest On Browns, George Paton

4:20pm: Paton may not be as interested in the position as Berry or Ossenfort. The experienced exec does not, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling, have an interview scheduled with the Browns (Twitter link). Paton has been especially selective over the years, so further deliberation would not exactly be a surprise.

2:26pm: The Browns’ GM search will include an interview will include a meeting with George Paton. The Vikings’ assistant GM will meet with the Browns this weekend, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Paton joins Eagles executive Andrew Berry and Patriots front office staffer Monti Ossenfort as candidates. A few more names have been mentioned in this search, but the Browns’ interview itinerary has formed.

In the GM mix for years, Paton would seemingly be a natural fit for a team that just hired longtime Vikings assistant Kevin Stefanski. A career-long Vikings coach, Stefanski has worked with Paton for 13 years. Paton has been with the Vikings since 2007 and previously worked with current boss Rick Spielman in Miami and Chicago.

Paton was in the mix for the 49ers job that went to John Lynch three years ago but turned down an opportunity to interview with the Jets last year. He did the same when John Dorsey‘s ouster created a Chiefs GM vacancy in 2017. The Browns prioritized hiring their head coach first this time around, with chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta overseeing the coaching search that produced Stefanski after Dorsey ran last year’s process.

Panthers Still Interested In Andrew Berry

The Panthers are still interested in speaking with Eagles VP of Football Operations Andrew Berry for their Executive VP of Football Operations role, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets. However, the Panthers would likely have to offer Berry control over the roster in order for the Eagles to grant permission.

Earlier this week, the Eagles rejected the Panthers’ request to chat with Berry, citing the roster control issue. At present, the Panthers’ roster is controlled by GM Marty Hurney.

The Panthers may or may not want to stick with Hurney as their front office leader for the 2020 offseason, but Berry’s candidacy for this particular job could wind up being moot. On Friday, Berry will interview for the Browns’ GM vacancy. The Eagles can’t prevent him from accepting an offer there and he could be off the table for the Panthers in a matter of days.

Browns To Interview Andrew Berry

Andrew Berry, the Eagles’ VP of football operations, will interview for the Browns GM job on Friday, Jim Trotter of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort will also be in the building on Friday to interview for the same job, but as Trotter notes, the Browns had similar overlap in their head coaching search.

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Berry has been the rumored favorite for the job, in part because of his relationship with the organization and owner Jimmy Haslam. The exec spent the 2016-18 campaigns as the Browns’ vice president of player personnel. Prior to that, he served as the Colts’ pro scouting coordinator from 2012-15.

Recently, the Eagles denied the Panthers’ request to interview Berry for a front office position. They have no such ability here, since the GM job would give Berry authority over the roster.

It remains to be seen whether a front office headlined by Berry, Ossenfort, or anyone else would still include assistant GM Eliot Wolf or VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith.

Eagles Deny Panthers’ Request To Interview Andrew Berry

Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry is a popular man these days. The Browns are interested in Berry for their GM vacancy, and the Panthers also requested an interview with Berry, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (via Twitter). Adam Schefter says Carolina wanted to interview Berry for its executive vice president position (Twitter link), but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that the Eagles denied the request (Twitter link).

Because the Panthers wanted to hire Berry for a role that doesn’t include final roster authority, Philadelphia has the right to block the interview. The Panthers already have Marty Hurney in place as GM, and recent reports indicated that Hurney and new head coach Matt Rhule would collaborate in finding an assistant GM. But Panthers owner David Tepper wants to add multiple people to his front office, and Berry’s significant personnel experience intrigued him.

A Harvard graduate, Berry first entered the NFL in 2009 as a scouting assistant in the Colts’ front office. He was eventually promoted through a number of roles, and he ultimately served as Indianapolis’ pro scouting coordinator from 2012-15 before leaving for Cleveland, where he spent the 2016-18 campaigns as vice president of player personnel.

Though his three years in Cleveland did not go particularly well, Berry is currently considered the favorite for the Browns’ GM job, where he would work with new head coach Kevin Stefanski and chief strategist Paul DePodesta.

Browns Hire Kevin Stefanski As Head Coach

Jan. 13: The Browns have formally announced the hire. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Cleveland has given Stefanski a five-year contract (Twitter link).

Jan. 12: The Browns will hire Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as their new head coach, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports (via Twitter) that it’s a done deal. Stefanski was the runner-up for the Cleveland HC gig last year, and after Freddie Kitchen‘s disastrous 2019 campaign resulted in his dismissal, the Browns have circled back to the man many believe they should have hired in the first place.

Stefanski has served in a variety of roles for the Vikings since joining the organization back in 2006, including stints as the tight ends coach, running backs coach, and quarterbacks coach. The 37-year-old was named interim offensive coordinator following the firing of John DeFilippo during the 2018 season, and he earned the full-time gig prior to the 2019 campaign.

During Stefanski’s first full season at the helm, the Vikings ranked as a top-10 offense in points. The coach led the trio of Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Mike Boone to top-six rankings in rushing yards and touchdowns, and he also helped quarterback Kirk Cousins have one of the best seasons of his career. Although the Vikings laid an egg in Saturday’s divisional round loss to the 49ers, Cleveland was obviously undeterred.

The Browns’ coaching search saw them interview eight candidates, as our 2020 head coaching search tracker shows (former Baylor HC Matt Rhule, who ultimately accepted the Panthers’ head coaching job, turned down the opportunity to interview with Cleveland). Browns chief strategist Paul DePodesta piloted the search, and recent reports indicated that he had narrowed his list to Stefanski and Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, though Cabot tweets that Stefanski and 49ers DC Robert Saleh were the two finalists.

Interestingly, DePodesta’s contract with Cleveland is reportedly set to expire, but given his role in the coaching search, it seems likely that the Browns will retain him. However, the team continues to search for a new GM, and Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry may have just become the leading candidate for that role, as his analytically-driven approach meshes with Stefanski’s.

Meanwhile, Vikings QB coach Klint Kubiak could follow Stefanski to Cleveland to become the Browns’ new OC, as Mike Klis of 9News.com tweets.

With the Stefanski hire, the 2020 head coaching cycle has come to a stop. The Browns were the last of the five teams with a head coaching vacancy this year to hire their HC.

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Latest On Browns’ Coaching & GM Search

The Browns have their new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, but they still need a new GM after firing John Dorsey. They recently requested an interview with Eagles exec Andrew Berry, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweets that he’s “at the front of the GM candidates.”

Robinson notes that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam once said he considered Berry a future GM, and that he has a relationship with chief strategist Paul DePodesta. In a separate tweet, Robinson explains that it may come down to whether or not Berry wants to take the job. He notes that Berry, who used to work in Cleveland under former GM Sashi Brown, is only 32 and in a good situation in Philly. He also writes that Berry will likely get other calls if he passes on the job.

As for the search that ultimately ended in Stefanski, Robinson has some interesting new nuggets. He tweets that Josh McDanielswanted a specific structure with the Browns” and that he “wasn’t going to an org where DePodesta or anyone else was a ‘side jury’ reporting to Haslam.” If that’s the case, then it sounds like McDaniels never got too close to landing in Cleveland despite his lengthy visit. The Browns and Haslam have caught plenty of flak for their odd reporting structures, and it sounds like that was an issue once again this time around. 

Robinson also tweets that both Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh “had very good interviews” and that he thinks they were the finalists along with Stefanski. Both should be hot names during next cycle. As for Stefanski’s staff, Robinson tweets that the rookie head coach will likely target either Gary or Klint Kubiak. The Kubiaks were on staff with Stefanski in Minnesota, although Robinson thinks the Vikings will try to retain both. Either could be a candidate to be Cleveland’s new OC assuming Stefanski hires one.

Finally, Robinson tweeted about the future prospects for assistant GM Eliot Wolf and VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith. He thinks the Haslams are open to both staying, and that Wolf will have a conversation with whoever the new GM is about a role.

Browns Request GM Interview With Eagles’ Andrew Berry

The Browns are interested in bringing Andrew Berry back to Cleveland. They requested an interview with the Eagles’ vice president of football operations, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

With Berry being part of the Browns’ new-age front office experiment, along with Sashi Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, this certainly loomed as a possibility. The Eagles hired Berry in February of last year.

The prospect of a Berry-DePodesta reunion surfaced earlier this week. DePodesta is seeking an analytically oriented coach, and Berry would make sense as a GM for this approach. Prior to becoming a the Colts’ pro scouting coordinator and the Browns’ VP of player personnel, Berry graduated from Harvard with an economics degree. He has a computer science master’s.

Despite the Browns wanting to hire their head coach before their GM, front office candidates have emerged. Cleveland is slated to interview Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds. Seahawks execs Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer are on the radar as well. So is Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter).

Reuniting DePodesta and Berry would be an interesting move for a Browns franchise that hit its low point during their previous time together. Cleveland went an NFL-record 1-31 in this duo’s first two years working with Brown and Hue Jackson. Both Berry and DePodesta were on board for a 2018 Browns draft that included Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward and Nick Chubb. But since-departed GM John Dorsey held the most influence in that process.

Latest On Browns’ HC Search

The Browns are no longer competing with any team for coaching candidates, with the Panthers and Giants having made their choices. However, neither hired a coach the Browns were considering. Both were linked to Josh McDaniels, who remains set to interview with the Browns on Friday.

But with Jim Schwartz entering the derby and Kevin Stefanski remaining a Browns target, McDaniels’ status as frontrunner may be slipping. The Patriots offensive coordinator may not have the edge Schwartz or Stefanski, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link).

Stefanski wowed Browns brass in his 2019 interview, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer adds. But then-GM John Dorsey promoted Freddie Kitchens instead. With Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta running this year’s search, the team appears to be seeking analytically geared coaches. Schwartz and Stefanski profile as embracing analytics, per Rapoport.

McDaniels, however, still has support in the Browns building, Cabot notes, adding that DePodesta and ex-Browns exec Andrew Berry (now with the Eagles) would be interested in a reunion. However, Cabot points to said reunion being most likely to commence with Stefanski as the head coach.

McDaniels’ interview will occur Friday — two days after Schwartz’s and one day after Stefanski’s. A northeast Ohio native, the 43-year-old McDaniels has interviewed with the Browns twice before. He met with the Browns during previous owner Randy Lerner‘s tenure in 2009, but the team hired Eric Mangini. McDaniels withdrew his name from consideration after interviewing in 2014, when current owner Jimmy Haslam was in charge. The Browns conducted a lengthy search in 2014; McDaniels was once believed to be the favorite during that process as well. The Browns want to make their hire by Saturday, so second interviews do not appear to be on tap.

Here is where the Browns’ process stands as of Tuesday night, courtesy of PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker:

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