As the Browns saw their season come to an end, they were able to hang their hat on an 11-win season despite a flurry of injuries that landed 26 percent of their salary on Injured Reserve. In this press conference, Berry hit on a couple of those injured players in Watson and running back Nick Chubb.
He also discussed head coach Kevin Stefanski, the vacancy at offensive coordinator, and more. We are now just two months away from the start of the new league year that begins with the NFL draft and free agency. Berry is relentless in his work and he will be ready to once again aggressively upgrade this roster in Cleveland.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the press conference of the Browns’ general manager and vice president of player personnel.
Playcalling duties not a necessity for new OC
Berry would not speak much about the hiring process of a new offensive coordinator or the decision to move on from Alex Van Pelt. However, he did state two key things as the Browns search for a new one:
The decision has nothing to do with playcalling responsibilities
Playcalling is a strength of Stefanski’s
The decision is entirely Stefanski’s to give up playcalling or not
The Browns have already slated three different individuals to interview for the vacancy, including former quarterback Ken Dorsey. With four teams still set to play, the Browns could hold out to interview more coaches who are still currently game-planning for a Super Bowl win.
The Browns will take their time, and we will hear from Berry and Stefanski in due time.
Browns want Nick Chubb back in the building
Berry has stated that Chubb has attacked his rehab process in a way that one would expect Chubb to. He wants Chubb back on the field. The Browns need Chubb back on the field.
“Nobody wants to see that carry in Pittsburgh be his last with the Cleveland Browns. We’ll obviously work with Nick to do everything we can to have him on the team.”
Unfortunately, however, there is a bit of a crack in the door in that last sentence from Berry.
Chubb is not owed a ton of guaranteed money, making his contract pretty easy to move off of. However, with the way the run game struggled without him, it would be an extraordinarily risky move to move away from the game’s best running back, even off of a massive knee injury.
He did finish, however, by stating, “We have every intention of keeping him on the team.”
The Browns and Chubb will get together. Getting a number to agree upon will be the biggest issue. If the Browns want to get back to the playoffs, a healthy Chubb will be key.
The door is wide open for the return of Joe Flacco
The Browns want Joe Flacco back.
However, Berry knows that he will have a market and the quarterback has earned the right to test that market. Berry stated there would be no hostility if both Watson and Flacco were in the building together, and stated he would “love to have him back.”
There is a process to these types of moves, however, and some of it is out of the control of a general manager. If a team offers Flacco a contract too pricey, Berry will not go outside of his comfort zone for a backup quarterback. However, the door is wide open.
Flacco would be a tremendous asset and a great backup to have in the building again in 2024.
Deshaun Watson is ahead of schedule with his recovery... and the expectations are high
In the last three starts quarterback Deshaun Watson showed glimpses of who he was against the Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals, and Baltimore Ravens. And Berry made it clear that the expectations remain high for Watson.
Berry stated that Watson may be ahead of schedule, but added “We feel good about him moving forward.” By stating this, the Browns and Berry expect no rust, but for Watson to be good from day one. And the Browns need him to be the player they expected him to be.
There will be no excuses in 2024, and Berry has put the pressure on his $230 million investment.
Kevin Stefanski will be around for awhile
Head coach Kevin Stefanski is not going anywhere.
That should have been obvious by this team winning 11 games despite a flurry of injuries to key players including the quarterback, the running back, both offensive tackles (and a backup), a breakout defensive tackle, a Pro Bowl-caliber safety, and many many more.
Berry raved about his head coach:
“We have a smart, adaptable, emotionally intelligent leader. The crazy part is that he is not even close to his ceiling. This is a guy who, hopefully in the next month, should win his second Coach of the Year Award in his first four years as a head coach. I know that our organization is in really good hands both now and for the foreseeable future… We’re really happy with Kevin.”
He would not directly say it, but it is pretty clear that Stefanski is going to not only win another Coach of the Year Award but get a new contract to keep him in Cleveland for a long, long time.
Berry won't stop thinking about what a playoff game in Cleveland will look like
Berry recalled Nick Chubb smashing the guitar, having his kids on the sideline as the clock ticked to zero. He recalled tight end David Njoku sharing drinks with tailgaters and defensive players taking a lap around the stadium to celebrate.
He talked about how he is celebrating his friend and general manager of the Detroit Lions Brad Holmes and the two playoff games the city of Detroit has hosted. And he is dreaming of the same in Cleveland.
That Thursday night game against the New York Jets where the Browns clinched their ticket to the postseason is just a taste of what the city of Cleveland will experience the day that happens. Berry talked about the resilience of this team and their ability to scrape out 11 wins.
Get ready Cleveland, 2024 will be the year.