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Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry built a partnership to lead the Browns to success

Stefanski and Berry signed contract extensions with the Browns on June 5

Kev and AB Extensions

When Executive Vice President and General Manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski were first hired in 2020, they stepped into new roles as a duo.

First time head coach. A new general manager. And yet, in their first season they began to re-shape the Browns and started their partnership. Four years later, the two are set to stay at the helm of the Browns, as the Browns announced they extended both Berry and Stefanski.

"It's a partnership where we take our job seriously," Stefanski said. "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. But I just come back to this – for the organization to trust Andrew and I, it speaks to what we've been able to do, but we have plenty of work to do. Fortunately for us, we've got some great people in this building – coaches, players, staff. So, we'll just continue to work."

Following the end of each season since Stefanski became head coach, they have had conversations with ownership about the previous season. This season was no different. After the Browns finished the 2023 season with an 11-6 record and a trip to the Wild Card round, they had those conversations with Managing and Principal Partners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, Executive Vice President and Partner JW Johnson and other members of ownership.

Those conversations served as the building blocks for the future. During the NFL Annal League Meeting in March, the Haslam's said at the time they were close to extensions with Berry and Stefanski. They praised the way the two handled a number of different circumstances throughout the 2023 season and didn't bat an eye.

Now with the extensions, there is a level of stability and continuity within the organization moving forward. Yet, Stefanski said they aren't focused on the element of stability; instead, they are focused on continuing to do the job ahead of them to lead the Browns.

"To entrust myself and Andrew, their family has given us that trust to be here is a big deal," Stefanski said. "So, with Dee and Jimmy, Whitney (Haslam Johnson) and JW, I mean, they've been ultra supportive of us in a football way and in a personal way. They've been great to our families. So, really excited to continue to partner with Andrew and we have work to do."

Since Berry and Stefanski took over in 2020, the Browns have a record of 37-30 (.552), which is the highest winning percentage for the team over a four-year stretch since 1986-89. They also reached the playoffs twice in the four-year stint, beginning in 2020 and again in 2023.

The Browns also finished the 2023 season with an 11-6 record and another trip to the postseason. The 11 regular season wins tied for second-most in team history, trailing only the 1986 team, which had 12 wins. Following the 2023 season, Stefanski (2020 and 2023) joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Brown (1951 and 1953) as the only coaches in team history to record multiple seasons with at least 11 regular season wins.

Cleveland had seven players selected to the Pro Bowl for the 2023 season, the club's most since sending eight in 1988. During his tenue, Berry has inked five of the players — G Joel Bitonio, DE Myles Garrett, TE David Njoku, G Wyatt Teller and CB Denzel Ward — to contract extensions. Berry made his other moves by acquiring WR Amari Cooper through a trade with the Cowboys in 2022 and selecting LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah as a second-round draft pick in 2021.

Berry also added the contract extensions of WR Jerry Jeudy – who the Browns acquired in a trade with the Broncos in March – and S Grant Delpit – who was drafted by the Browns in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

As the two have molded the Browns over the last four years, they have worked as a pair to do so.

"I feel very blessed to have Kevin as a partner and I think you guys all know how highly I think of him both professionally and probably more importantly as a person," Berry said during NFL Owner's Meetings in March. "It's fun to go to work with him every day. It really is. And I think as much as he's accomplished in his first four years, there's a lot more runway in call it the next 10. So, I'm really excited to see where the team heads under his stewardship."

Even with their level of success in the first four years, Stefanski believes there is room to improve as a head coach. He knows there are a number of ways, such as how practices are run, how to reach the football team and messaging of the football team. He holds a growth mentality and works to emulate for his players.

"I think it's one of our jobs as coaches is to reach our players, and that can come in a variety of ways," Stefanski said. "We talk even when you're teaching and you're learning, there are different ways to do that there are different settings for a guy to learn. So, we spend a lot of time as coaches trying to find ways to reach our guys. Not everybody learns the same way, not everybody thinks exactly like you do. So, we work really, really hard to meet our guys where they are. I think part of that is getting to know each other and building trust with each other. That allows you to get to that point, but it takes some hard work."

He knows he and Berry can also continue to grow together as they lead the Browns through the next chapter of their story.

As they have built the Browns up to where they are heading into the 2024 season, both Stefanski and Berry have felt the support of ownership over the last four years. It's allowed the two to succeed in their approach to building the roster and finding success on the field.

"And then I would say to Jimmy and Dee, they've been fantastic," Berry said in March. "I don't think that they get enough credit for their ownership of the Browns. They're incredibly supportive, they're great with resources, they push where appropriate. But I think the thing that often goes overlooked or not said enough is as much as they push their people, they really care about them as people. We're not just commodities so to speak. And that's something that means a lot to me. I know it means a lot to Kevin and we're fortunate to have good ownership here."

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