CLEVELAND, Ohio — Browns owner Jimmy Haslam might get his wish to bring Andrew Berry back to Cleveland.
The Browns have requested permission from the Eagles to interview their former Vice President of Player Personnel for their GM vacancy, a league source told cleveland.com, which first reported on Dec. 29 that the team wanted him back in the fold.
A Haslam favorite, Berry had that role with the Browns from 2016-18 and participated in the coaching search last year before leaving to take over as Eagles VP of Football Operations in February.
Berry and Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta, Harvard grads who had a great working relationship here, both favored Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, but then-GM John Dorsey, with the backing of ownership, promoted Freddie Kitchens instead. Both Kitchens and Dorsey were let go after the disappointing 6-10 season, and now DePodesta has a chance to land Stefanski.
Berry would pair well with Stefanski, whom he got to know during the search, and other candidates on the Browns’ list, a source said. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who’s big on analytics and interviewed job on Jan. 8, is another natural fit for Berry, who will likely also have other GM opportunities besides the Browns.
An All-Ivy League trio of DePodesta, Berry and Stefanski — a former Penn defensive back — would represent that elusive alignment that Haslam is seeking in his organization, but it’s not the only way to achieve it in this search.
Stefanski, 37, is one of the finalists for the job, a source told cleveland.com. The request to talk to Berry would seem to increase the his chances, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.
Berry is one of the two known GM candidates the Browns have requested permission to interview. The other is Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds, who has a history with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, another candidate the Browns like.
Stefanski and Saleh met head-to-head on Saturday in the first NFC divisional game.
The two GM requests would also seem to indicate that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is losing steam in the search. McDaniels, who would want to bring in his own GM, has no connection to Berry and left the Colts at the altar in 2018 after agreeing to take the job, so wouldn’t be a favorite of Dodds’. But McDaniels plans to see the process through to the end, a source said.
The Browns intend to keep their head coach decision mum until Sunday out of respect for the candidates involved in the playoffs on Saturday, but are likely close to reaching a consensus.
Berry, one of the up-and-coming personnel executives in the league, left the Browns last year to have more of a hands-on role in talent acquisition. When Dorsey took over as GM in December of 2017, he brought assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and Vice President of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith, giving the Browns three execs with that title, including Ken Kovash, who later took over the research department.
Berry worked side-by-side with Eagles GM Howie Roseman this year, helping shape a roster that went 9-7 and lost in the wild-card round to the Seahawks when quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a concussion.
Berry, 32, spent seven seasons in the Colts front office (2009-15) before joining the Browns, including the last four as pro scouting director.
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