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Stability is here: Andrew Berry, Kevin Stefanski extensions finalized

BEREA — General manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski are in it for the long haul.

The Browns finally have stability at the top.

Berry and Stefanski signed multiyear extensions, the team announced Wednesday. The length and terms weren’t released. Each signed a five-year deal when hired in 2020, so the extensions come with a year left on the original contracts.

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“We are incredibly fortunate to have Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry leading the Cleveland Browns,” owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in the news release. “Since the day they were hired, each has worked tirelessly to help the Cleveland Browns win. We are proud of what they and the team have achieved, but Kevin and Andrew would be the first to say that Browns fans deserve even more. Their leadership, collaborative approach, and ability to overcome obstacles bode well for the future of this franchise.”

Stefanski, 42, called it a “big deal” for the Haslam family to have “that trust” in him and Berry.

“They’ve been ultra-supportive of us in a football way and in a personal way,” Stefanski said after an organized team activities practice. “Really excited to continue to partner with Andrew, and we have work to do.”

The success of Berry and Stefanski is unprecedented for the franchise since it returned in 1999. The Browns have made two playoff appearances in their four years — the best stretch since the late 1980s — and are 38-32, including 1-2 in the playoffs.

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Before they arrived, the Browns had two winning seasons, one postseason appearance and a 101-234-1 record in 21 years.

Last season was always going to be a critical one, as the Haslams weren’t ready to commit to extensions following back-to-back losing seasons. The Browns went 11-6 and made the playoffs despite a string of serious injuries, including running back Nick Chubb lost for the season in Week 2 and quarterback Deshaun Watson after Week 10. They won games with a franchise-record four starting quarterbacks.

The extensions became a matter of when, not if, even after the season ended with a 45-14 wild card loss in Houston. The Haslams indicated in March the extensions were coming.

“Last season was a prime example,” they said in the statement. “Despite facing multiple player injuries and using five different starting quarterbacks, Andrew and his staff built a roster that adapted well, while Kevin and his staff led the team to its second playoff appearance in four years, earning Coach of the Year honors for the second time in that period. They are two of the brightest people we know, and selfless people who only care about what is best for the Cleveland Browns. We are thrilled that Kevin and Andrew will remain with the team for the future.”

The Browns are set up to have, by far, the greatest continuity since they returned.

GM Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel from 2005-08 previously had the longest tenures. They received extensions before the 2008 season, but the Browns went 4-12 amid several off-the-field issues and both were fired before the extensions even kicked in.

The Haslams bought the franchise in 2012. Under their leadership John Dorsey had lasted longest as GM at two-plus years (end of 2017 through 2019) and Hue Jackson as coach with 2½ years (he was fired at midseason in 2019).

“It’s a partnership where we take our jobs seriously,” Stefanski said of him and Berry. “We understand the jobs we have in this town. We understand our fans and what they want this team to be, so we’re just going to focus on working every waking minute to get this thing where we want it.”

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Stefanski had never been a head coach when he was hired. He was voted The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year in 2020 and again last season.

In addition to keeping a calm demeanor in good times and bad, the players began parroting his messages last season and he had a strong performance as a play caller, winning games with journeyman P.J. Walker and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback. Stefanski also adjusted the game plans to suit Joe Flacco, who threw for 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns in five starts after not signing until Nov. 20.

“The way that he was able to lead and manage through challenges and adversity this year was absolutely phenomenal,” Berry said of Stefanski after the season. “And we have a smart, adaptable, emotionally intelligent leader who — the crazy part is he’s not even close to his ceiling. I know that our organization is in really good hands both now and for the foreseeable future with him.”

Berry, 37, was the youngest GM in the history of the NFL when he was hired at 32. His tenure has featured hits and misses in talent acquisition, but he helped stabilize an organization marked by constant turnover and filled out the roster that withstood 13 players ending last season on injured reserve, including several major contributors.

He signed Pro Bowlers Myles Garrett, Chubb, Denzel Ward, Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller and David Njoku to extensions, traded for Amari Cooper and Dustin Hopkins and drafted Grant Delpit, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Martin Emerson Jr. and Dawand Jones.

The missteps include signing free agents Austin Hooper and John Johnson III, re-signing Jadeveon Clowney in 2022 and drafting Anthony Schwartz.

His signature move remains too early to judge, although the returns have been disappointing.

He engineered the controversial and blockbuster trade for Watson in March 2022. The Browns gave Houston a net of five draft picks, including three first-rounders, then signed Watson to a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract.

Watson was suspended for the first 11 games in 2022 following more than two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct and had last season cut short by a pair of shoulder injuries, the second a broken bone that required surgery. Watson has appeared in 12 of 35 possible games.

“We think he’s going to have a really big year and have a ton of confidence in him as our starting quarterback,” Berry said.

Berry was previously with the Browns from 2016-18 as vice president of player personnel, and the Haslams have always been big fans.

“Andrew is mature beyond his years,” Jimmy Haslam said last training camp. “He’s very bright, he’s extremely conscientious, he’s all about growing and how do I get better? And he is relentless, too.”

Berry and Stefanski have some serious unfinished business. The Browns have never been to a Super Bowl, let alone won one.

“We have work to do. Until you’ve got that final one checked off, you haven’t done it,” Stefanski said.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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