With Andrew Berry (33) and Kevin Stefanski (38) calling the shots, the Browns boast one of the NFL's youngest Coach-GM duos.
That pair is also one of the most promising in the league, according to Lindsay Jones and The Athletic NFL staff, which compiled a "40 Under 40" list of front office executives, coaches, agents and finance, marketing and content employees around the NFL.
"What they all have in common," Jones wrote, "is they are shaping the direction of the NFL, all before their 40th birthdays."
Berry and Stefanski each made the list — and for good reason. The Browns were among the most active teams at the start of free agency and received high grades for their first draft.
It's all part of a process meant to push the Browns to the next step, and their appearances on the "40 Under 40" list is further proof they've generated some respect during the early part of their tenure.
Stefanski, who was hired in January, joined the Browns after spending 14 seasons as an assistant with the Minnesota Vikings. He'll spend his first year as a head coach with Baker Mayfield, a promising quarterback eager to prove himself in his third year in the league, and a roster full of talent, both at veteran and rookie levels.
"This is Stefanski's first job outside the Vikings' organization, and though he's been impressive and thoughtful throughout his first few months on the job, he's yet to coach his Browns team for even a practice," Jones said. "He's sharp and organized, but can he be the guy to guide the Browns back to the playoffs?"
The Browns' offseason roster on April 1, 2021
The pieces all seem to be there, and that's because of the work of Berry during his first few months on the job. He was the Browns' VP of Player Personnel from 2016-2018 and spent last season as VP of Football Operations with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was hired two weeks after Stefanski, and all of his transactions thus far appear to be modeled around the strategies Stefanski plans to implement on the field.
"The youngest general manager in NFL history was aggressive in his first offseason as the Browns look to boost and support Baker Mayfield," Jones wrote. "Berry needs Mayfield to be good to avoid the kind of never-ending quarterback search that always plagued his predecessors, but he also has to continue to add to the defense for the Browns to end their long playoff drought. Berry has also headed up the Browns' #BeTheSolution campaign as the franchise tackles social justice issues."
That last point is an important one — Berry and Stefanski have both put social justice efforts at the forefront of their priorities. The Browns' #BeTheSolution campaign has encouraged employees and fans to donate, sign up or educate themselves toward social activism initiatives. Stefanski, meanwhile, incorporated social justice discussions in several of the Browns' video meetings during the virtual offseason program.
"We are a family. We're in this for one reason," Berry said after the announcement of the campaign. "We realize what's right, and there are some things that are more important than football."
Those efforts highlight the flurry of moves Berry and Stefanski have implemented since arriving in Cleveland.