Around the AFC North: Browns to Hire Maryland Native as GM

012720-Around-AFC-North-Andrew-Berry
Browns Vice President of Player Personnel Andrew Berry talks to reporters in 2017.

Browns: Maryland Native Andrew Berry Returning as GM

After leaving the Cleveland Browns for one season, Andrew Berry will reportedly return as the youngest general manager in NFL history.

The 32-year-old Berry has been selected as Cleveland's next GM, according to multiple reports. 

Berry will become the league's second current African-American general manager, joining Chris Grier of the Miami Dolphins. A native of Bel Air, Md., Berry played football at Bel Air High School before becoming a star cornerback in college at Harvard.

He was Cleveland's vice president of player personnel for three seasons (2016-18) before leaving to become the Philadelphia Eagles' vice president of football operations last year.

Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam decided to bring Berry back to Cleveland, hoping he can help fix the Browns, who haven't made the playoffs since 2002. The Browns' front office has been restructured following their disappointing 6-10 season. Former General Manager John Dorsey and Head Coach Freddie Kitchens were fired, and Kevin Stefanski was hired as the new head coach on Jan. 13.

Berry will work alongside Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta, but Berry will have final say over the 53-man roster.

Cleveland chose Berry over at least two other candidates who interviewed for the job – Minnesota Vikings Assistant General Manager George Paton and New England Patriots Director of College Scouting Monti Ossenfort.

It will be interesting to see if the Browns finally have the right decision-making formula for success. Last week, Stefanski had his first face-to-face meeting with star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The relationship between Stefanski and Beckham will be watched closely next season – a rookie head coach trying to help Beckham make more plays and fewer off-the-field headlines.

Beckham was in the news again following LSU's victory in the Jan. 13 national championship game. After rooting for his alma mater, Beckham handed out money to Tigers players, then slapped a Superdome police officer on the rear during the post-game locker room celebration.

An arrest warrant for Beckham was initially filed before it was rescinded a few days later. But as Stefanski and Berry begin a new regime in Cleveland, Berry thought it was important to meet with Beckham.

"I'm looking forward to sitting down with Odell face-to-face," Stefanski said via Cleveland.com. "At that point, I can start laying down my expectations for Odell and for all of our players."

Bengals: Burrow Skips Senior Bowl But Bengals Don't Care

The Bengals coaching staff led the South squad at the Senior Bowl last week, but Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow didn't participate in the week's activities.

For Burrow and the Bengals, that wasn't a big deal. The former LSU quarterback is still expected to be selected No. 1 in draft by Cincinnati, and Head Coach Zac Taylor isn't upset that he didn't get a closer look at Burrow in Mobile, Ala.

"The guy just played a full season. All those LSU guys did," Taylor said via Cincinnati.com. "We are always looking for any advantage that we can get in any player in this process. Any chance we can get to be around them early in January as opposed to the Combine is always great, but you certainly understand when guys choose not to play."

After the season Burrow had, his worthiness to be the No. 1 pick is already solidified.

"He certainly had a great season," Taylor said. "We're still going through the process of evaluating him and a lot of the other guys that are worthy of those high picks. But, to go undefeated, win the national championship, be the leader that he is, that stuff is really impressive."

Steelers: Troy Polamalu Gets Hall of Fame Endorsement From Tom Brady

Former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is one of the finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend. An opponent who believes Polamalu is worthy is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who released a statement through the Steelers in support of Polamalu. If he gets good news from the Hall of Fame, Polamalu may want to take Brady to dinner.

"He was one of the most instinctive and disruptive players I have ever played against," Brady's statement said in part. "Outside of his incredible athleticism, his greatest skill was his unpredictability. You could never quite get a read on what he was doing. Yet, he was always around the ball. If you wanted to find Troy, you just looked for where the ball was going and you would always find him."

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