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Takeaways from Andrew Berry at the NFL Annual League Meetings

Berry discussed several topics such as Nick Chubb’s return, free agency and more

Takeaways AB league meetings 3.26

ORLANDO, Fla.  — Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry met with a small group of reporters on the Tuesday of the NFL Annual League Meeting. He discussed several topics surrounding the Browns' offseason and what lies ahead.

Here are the main takeaways from Berry's conversation.

RB Nick Chubb's timeline

While RB Nick Chubb continues to recover from his season-ending knee injury that he sustained in Week 2 of the 2023 season, Berry said that it may still be too early to fully understand what he could look like at the start of the 2024 season.

Berry said that Chubb should begin to load run at some point in the upcoming month. Chubb is working on strengthening his quad and working through his rehab but isn't at the point where he is doing sprints or agility drills at the moment. However, they expect within the next month that is the next step Chubb will take.

"I think the next – call it three – months will be pretty telling in terms of his potential readiness for early in the season," Berry said. "We are going to be conservative in terms of our approach in our assessment with building the roster because he is coming off of a major knee injury. But I do have to give him a lot of credit. He's done a really, really nice job."

WR Jerry Jeudy's extension

Shortly after the Browns acquired WR Jerry Jeudy in a trade with the Broncos at the start of the new league year, they signed him to a 3-year contract extension.

Berry said he believes one of their competitive advantages has been in their philosophy around contract management, with the ideology focused on being proactive instead of reactive in market dynamics. The Browns have operated in this manner with DE Myles Garrett's contact or when they acquired WR Amari Cooper in a trade ahead of the shift in the free agent market.

"In Jerry's case, you already saw two new receiver contracts enter the market that really are harbingers of things to come in that market," Berry said. "Probably by Week 1 of the NFL season, the top of that market's going to be north of $30 million. So, as we think of the contract management space, rather than be reactive to new market dynamics, we try to be proactive. Probably more importantly, when we think about an extension or a signing, we think of where the market is going to be on September 1 as opposed to March 1."

In Jeudy, Berry believes they have a player who is an elite separator, can play inside and outside and can complement their wide receiver corps well.

Early outlook on the 2024 draft

After trading two 2024 picks for Jeudy, the Browns currently have five picks for the 2024 draft. They hold No. 54 in the second round, No. 85 in the third round, No. 156 in the fifth round, No. 206 in the sixth round and No. 243 in the seventh round.

With the gap between the third and the fifth round, Berry said the potential for movement isn't off the table, but also isn't top of mind.

"I'd say it's probably less so because of the gap in picks because we think about it less in terms of, let's say the aggregate number of picks between our selections and more about, let's say, the ranges of the draft where you're getting similar talent, or historically, where you get similar talent," Berry said. "I think I've mentioned this before, once you get to that point in the draft, the likelihood that you're getting a starter or a role player, it flattens pretty significantly and probably a lot earlier than people maybe externally realize. So that's not really, to be honest, that's not really a huge consideration for me."

Berry also said that at No. 54 in this year's draft, they must be flexible in terms of how they approach their first pick of the draft because they can't quite predict how the draft will play out. He used the example of when the Browns selected CB Martin Emerson Jr. in the third round (68th overall) in the 2022 draft.

"I don't think anyone thought that we were going to take a corner," Berry said. "But you just can't be so rigid or dogmatic. We don't think of the draft as (addressing) need necessarily. We think about it as more like long-term investment in the roster. And I think that's a perfect example of why."

Yet, the Browns can still add young players who they can develop in the draft, just like they did in recent years.

Return of free agents

When free agency officially began on March 13, the Browns brought back numerous players who were on their roster in 2023 – particularly on the defensive side of the ball. They re-signed DE Za'Darius Smith, DT Shelby Harris, DT Maurice Hurst II and S Rodney McLeod Jr. On the offensive side of the ball, they re-signed G Michael Dunn, and on special teams, P Corey Bojorquez and WR James Proche II.

"I think once your roster becomes more mature and you have an established core, the balance will lean more retention than maybe external signings," Berry said. "Whether it's early extensions for guys or veterans that may hit the market initially and bring them back.

Berry also said they were pleased with the overall success of the team last year, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Heading into free agency Berry believed there was going to be more retention than addition to their roster, but kept their options open as well.

"But that's not to say that we didn't explore external additions or make a handful of external addition," Berry said. "That's just kind of how it worked out this offseason with the values we put on a number of players around the league."

The Browns also signed K Cade York to a contract on Monday. They first drafted York in the fourth round of the 2022 draft and played his rookie season in Cleveland. However, York was waived in August 2023 after the Browns traded for K Dustin Hopkins.

Berry discussed why the Browns decided to bring York back yet reiterated that Hopkins is still their kicker for the 2024 season.

"I think everyone in this room knows how talented we think Cade is. Obviously, last year he went through a tough stretch last year with us in camp. But you see this a lot with the history of kickers," Berry said. "A lot like rookie players there is a little bit of up and down before they find their stability. We've always believed in having a developmental kicker on the roster, and Cade we believe is as good as they come in that regard. We're looking forward to working with him again."

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