The Cleveland Browns were the last team with a head coaching vacancy to fill their position. They are also still looking for a new general manager. Their lead candidate for the position, George Paton, just took himself out of the running. It was a desirable hire because he has a long working relationship with new head coach Kevin Stefanski because of their time together with the Minnesota Vikings.
According to Cleveland.com, one of the reasons that Paton removed his name from consideration, aside from the fact that he was already comfortable with his position in Minnesota, is because he had some concerns about the Browns’ organizational structure, with everybody being asked to report directly to the owners, and with Paul DePodesta being placed at the same level in the hierarchy.
While the Browns would be offering their general manager the final say on the final 53-man roster, which is generally the most coveted role for the position, he would still be asked to work heavily and in concert with DePodesta and Stefanski, all of whom individually report to Jimmy Haslam and Dee Haslam, as well as their son in law, who is an executive vice president.
With their top candidate gone, the focus now shifts to Andrew Berry, who has already previously been in the Browns’ organization. He was brought on board in 2016 to serve as the team’s vice president of player personnel. He left for the Philadelphia Eagles last offseason for a promotion, and now he is in the running to return to Cleveland as general manager.
While he doesn’t have the extensive working relationship with Stefanski that Paton had, Berry’s advantage is that he is already versed in how the Browns envision running things. In fact, he was more aligned with DePodesta than other candidates have been, so he would be more open to working within their intended structure anyway.
Stefanski and Berry are also already familiar with each other, in addition, because the latter was still with the organization when he interviewed for the head coaching vacancy that went to Freddie Kitchens, who lasted one season. Kitchens was former general manager John Dorsey’s preference, and now he, too, of course, is gone.
A Stefanski-Berry-DePodesta alignment would be the closest thing to what the Browns have envisioned for their plans for the bulk of the past decade, facilitating a more universal approach to roster building and things of that nature. All of them embrace or are open to their prominent use of analytics, which has never been the case within their prior arrangements—and has led to frequent and often embarrassing turnover.