Andrew Berry is back, and he’s in charge this time.
The Browns ended their two-week search for a general manager Monday, bringing Berry back from the Eagles. The five-year deal was completed, and he’ll have the titles of general manager and executive vice president, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram.
The official announcement was expected Tuesday morning.
Berry, 32, was vice president of player personnel for the Browns from 2016-18 before spending 2019 as vice president of football operations for the Eagles.
This will be his first time as a general manager and in charge of a football department. He will have final say over the 53-man roster.
He joins the Dolphins’ Chris Grier as the only black general managers in the NFL. He’s the fifth head of football operations hired by owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam since they bought the team in 2012.
Berry was considered the favorite to get the job when GM John Dorsey and the organization parted ways Dec. 31 after two years. Dorsey declined to accept a diminished role.
But Vikings assistant general manager George Paton emerged as the front-runner and interviewed twice with the Browns after spending the last 13 years in Minnesota with new coach Kevin Stefanski, who was hired Jan. 13.
Paton withdrew from consideration Friday, putting Berry back in the spotlight. Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort was the other candidate known to interview.
Berry impressed the Haslams and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta during his three years with the Browns. He’s liked and respected throughout the organization and survived the regime change from Sashi Brown to Dorsey.
But Berry returns with a serious question to answer: How big a role did he play during the Browns’ historically bad 1-31 stretch in 2016-17?
Brown was running the football department and making the final decisions, but Berry was his top football expert. The draft misses those two years far outnumbered the hits.
The worst picks were receiver Corey Coleman (No. 15 in 2016 after two trades down), tackle Shon Coleman and quarterback Cody Kessler (third round, 2016), tight end David Njoku (No. 29, 2017) and quarterback DeShone Kizer (second round, 2017).
The best were linebacker Joe Schobert (fourth round, 2016), defensive end Myles Garrett (No. 1, 2017) and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (third round, 2017).
The situation is different for Berry’s return.
Brown orchestrated a teardown of the roster, stockpiling draft choices and salary cap space while building for the future. Jimmy Haslam said Jan. 13 this won’t be a rebuild and he feels the Browns are close to winning.
Haslam has stressed the need for alignment in the latest organizational reboot, and the Berry-Stefanski tandem should provide that. Stefanski joined Haslam, executive vice president JW Johnson, DePodesta and vice president of football administration Chris Cooper on the general manager search committee.
Berry was part of the 2018 Cleveland coaching search in which Stefanski interviewed twice and finished runner-up to Freddie Kitchens, who was fired Dec. 29 after going 6-10 in his only season. Berry and DePodesta favored Stefanski.
Berry and DePodesta graduated from Harvard University and Stefanski from the University of Pennsylvania, giving the Browns an all-Ivy League trio.
Berry’s history with the Browns should be a huge advantage given the condensed timeframe of the offseason that remains. The college all-star games, including the Senior Bowl, have passed, and the scouting combine starts in four weeks.
He knows the roster, the scouting system and the people in the personnel department, although it could be awkward that he jumped assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith, who were hired by Dorsey after their years together with the Packers.
Before joining the Browns, Berry worked for the Colts for seven years. He rose from scouting assistant to pro scouting coordinator, and the Colts went to the playoffs five times and reached a Super Bowl.
Berry was a starting cornerback for four years at Harvard and was All-Ivy League three times. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in computer science.