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5 takeaways from Andrew Berry at NFL Annual Meetings

Berry discussed the Browns’ busy start to free agency the last two weeks and more from Phoenix


PHOENIX — Browns EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry sat down with reporters Sunday at the Arizona Biltmore Resort to discuss the Browns' offseason, which has featured several transactions over the last week since free agency began as the Browns beef up their roster for 2023.

Berry covered all those moves and more on Day 1 of the NFL Annual Meetings, where owners, general managers, coaches and other team executives gathered to talk about the state of the league.

Here are five things to know from Berry's media chat:

1. Browns check key need with Moore

Berry checked off the Browns' biggest need of the offseason Wednesday when they acquired WR Elijah Moore in a trade with the Jets. Moore brings a level of speed the Browns were missing in their offense last season, which made it harder for QB Deshaun Watson to find good deep-ball opportunities.

"Despite maybe how it's looked at times, I love speed," Berry said. "We love speed, and there's probably no general manager or head coach that says they want to be slow on the perimeter necessarily, but when you have an opportunity to add a good player who can really stress the defense with his ability to run, that's an opportunity that we're always going to look to take advantage of."

After a rocky start to his career in New York, Moore, a 2021 second-round pick, is coming to Cleveland with high hopes of reaching his potential with the talents of Watson. Berry is confident the Browns will be the right fit for him.

"We feel very good about Elijah," Berry said. "Loves ball, hard worker. He's a good teammate. This is a guy that, despite some of the ups and downs in New York, and obviously we have a really good relationship with that organization, my time working with (Jets GM) Joe (Douglas), and (Jets) Assistant Director, Pro Personnel) Kevin Murphy and (Jets head coach) Robert (Saleh's) friendship, but we feel good about who Elijah is, bringing him into our building and think he's going to do well there."

2. What's ahead on offense?

The top pieces for the Browns' offense appear to be set after the Moore trade, and the question head coach Kevin Stefanski faces next will be about what tweaks could be implemented into the playbook to expand Watson's capabilities and give the unit a stronger punch.

Berry directed all strategic questions to Stefanski, but he did acknowledge that the team will take lessons from the six games last season where Waston was the QB.

He also believes the group will improve naturally as a result of having a full offseason together and not needing to prepare for a midseason QB change, which the Browns did last year between the less-mobile Jacoby Brissett and Watson.

"I think, from a football standpoint last year, to play 11 games with Jacoby who's a much different style of quarterback and then really kind of transition on the fly, that's even tough for the other 10 players on offense," he said. "So all of those learnings, all of those moments, the offensive staff has really taken into the offseason. I think there will be a lot of carryover, but certainly there will be modifications to the offense that we think are more suited for Deshaun and the overall group."

Check out photos of new Browns WR Elijah Moore, a speedy third-year veteran whom the Browns acquired via trade from the Jets.

3. Browns didn't seek Watson input on Akins signing

One connection that was easy to draw when the Browns signed former Texans TE Jordan Akins was that the Browns added him because of his chemistry with Watson, who played with Akins in Houston in 2018 and 2019. Perhaps Berry even asked for Watson's own thoughts on Akins before making the move.

Berry said that wasn't the case.

"I know perhaps that was something that after the fact maybe people assumed that we made the signing just because of that," he said. "Jordan, we actually thought, was an impact receiver for Houston this past year. We thought he fit really nicely into the F-roll in our offense and could really be a playmaking weapon for us. That actually had nothing to do with Deshaun's input or anything along those lines."

Akins was indeed productive last season and set career-highs with 495 receiving yards and a team-leading five touchdowns. He's a big target at 6-foot-4 and 243-pounds, too, and should give Watson another reliable tight end.

Any chemistry they may still have from Houston would simply be a nice bonus.

4. Why Browns liked Okoronkwo

The Browns are giving DE Ogbo Okoronkwo a chance to carry the mini-breakout season he built last year with the Texans, when he amassed five sacks in the last eight games.

Those were the first eight games he had ever started in a five-year career split between Los Angeles and Houston that's been offset by multiple injuries, but he played all 17 games for the first time in 2022 and finally blossomed, and Berry echoed Okoronkwo’s sentiments about why.

More opportunities.

"Ogbo had been a very highly productive player on maybe a more limited pitch count both in L.A. and early in the season with Houston, and there are many players that can be productive in a limited role, but then the question is, 'OK, can they maintain that production over a higher volume of stats, or are they almost like relief pitchers of baseball?' They're not starters, but they're relief pitchers," Berry said. "I think the impressive thing with Ogbo is he was really able to maintain his underlying production and with a significantly higher volume of snaps.

"So we looked at it as an opportunity to add a young player who we feel really good can play really productive football with a heavy load and maintain the quality of play."

5. Not done making moves

The Browns have been busy since free agency began and have officially added 10 players to the roster since March 15. They've also re-signed six players from last season, and they're not done making moves yet.

Berry stated that point multiple times throughout his interview.

"There's no position group or part of the roster that's completed at this point," he said. "We're really, really early in terms of the transaction season. Now, I'll also acknowledge that I understand that within maybe the first week, that's probably the most player movement across the league, but even as we sit here now, there's still a lot of work to be done and a lot of things that could happen to shape the roster."

Areas the Browns could still look to add pieces include both defensive line positions, linebacker and safety, among others. The Browns have multiple players they feel good starting at all of those positions but will continue to stay active in searching for improvements.

"We don't look at it as, like, 'OK, catch your breath right now,'" he said. "It's a long time until we're playing games in September."