Few players on the Browns have spent more time in the NFL than Andrew Sendejo, a 10-year veteran safety.
Now, teammate Adrian Clayborn is also a 10-year veteran, but where and with whom they spent that decade in the league is what truly makes Sendejo unique among all of his teammates. Sendejo was a part of the Minnesota Vikings organization for nine of his 10 NFL seasons and is more familiar with members of the Browns coaching staff — including head coach Kevin Stefanski, defensive coordinator Joe Woods and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer — than any other Browns player by a wide margin.
That's something that is not lost on Sendejo, who noted during a Thursday appearance on Cleveland Browns Daily, "it's kind of crazy how things have come full circle."
He went on to add, "it was good to reunite with a bunch of coaches I'm familiar with and to be back with those guys."
In fact, for Sendejo, that familiarity was the biggest factor in his decision to join the Browns.
"When you're late in your career, you're looking for a scheme that fits, for a place that feels right, and there's a lot that goes into that when it comes to free agency," Sendejo said. When it came to Cleveland, he added, "there were just so many boxes that were checked off and it just felt right."
Stefanski was in various roles on the Vikings offensive staff as he worked his way from assistant, to position coach, to the team's offensive coordinator. Stefanski's ascension in Minnesota did not surprise Sendejo at all, nor did it surprise him to see Stefanski get a job as a head coach in the NFL.
"I got to watch coach Stefanski coach basically every position on offense in Minnesota," he said. "You see him work his way up like a player works their way up. Before I even knew that I was going to be here, I was extremely happy for him to see that he got the job."
Check out photos of the team working out Tuesday
The 2020 offseason has been unique and historic for a variety of reasons and it even has been a new experience for a veteran like Sendejo, but he knows the playing field is the same for every team and the Browns need to focus on making the best of it.
"It's definitely a unique year and it will be challenging for everyone, but everybody has to go through it, so it's one of those things you're just going to have to deal with," Sendejo said.
As for the Browns, he said, "We've got our nose down, we're here and everyone is excited just to be back and happy to get back to work."
Woods was Sendejo's defensive backs coach for his first three years in the league. Knowing the techniques he likes to teach will be very helpful to Sendejo in light of the limited offseason work.
"The memories I have with Joe are great," said Sendejo, who stayed in touch with his coach even after he left Minnesota because, "he was the coach who when I got in the league, taught a lot of the NFL fundamental things you need to know as a DB."
With Woods as the defensive coordinator, "the schemes are relatively the same and some of the things (he) has done in the past … it's kind of why I chose to come here. I'm familiar with the way they coach and what they're looking for. It's kind of an easy transition," Sendejo said.
With his familiarity of Woods' scheme, Sendejo knows that this year, more than any other, he is going to really have to help the younger players in the secondary, especially second-round pick Grant Delpit, get up to speed quickly with the season just around the corner.
When asked if he could imagine being a rookie this offseason, Sendejo bluntly replied, "absolutely not." That's why Sendejo takes his role as a veteran mentor to Delpit very seriously, noting, "it's kind of part of your responsibility as a veteran guy when you get someone that comes in with that much talent to try and get them up to speed. I'll try to teach him the best I can and with his God-given ability, he'll be able to take over from there."
As for what Browns fans can expect from Sendejo, there are two things that definitely stick out. The first is versatility, as Sendejo can play both safety positions and even come down and cover the slot in various dime and big nickel formations. That versatility has been one of the keys to his long career in the league.
"One of the first things you learn when you come into the league is the more you can do, the better," he said. Especially this year, Sendejo said "you have to be ready for anything at any time, and being a veteran, I'm familiar with this defense so wherever they tell me to go, I'll go."
The second, and probably the core ethos for Sendejo, in his own words is that, "I will play my (butt) off for this organization, for this team, for this city, so that's what you're gonna get out of me every time I step on the field."
That attitude and play style will no doubt make Sendejo a fast favorite of the Dawg Pound in 2020.