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Takeaways from Kevin Stefanski at NFL Annual League Meeting

Stefanski discussed several topics including Deshaun Watson, Nick Chubb’s recovery, coaching additions, free agency and more

NFL Meetings Stefanski 3.25

ORLANDO, Fla. — As head coach Kevin Stefanski sat at a table at the AFC Coaches Breakfast, he met with reporters for the first time since the beginning of free agency. He discussed several topics surrounding the first wave of free agency, Deshaun Watson and Nick Chubb's recoveries, coaching changes and more on the Browns' offseason.

Here are five takeaways from Stefanski's conversation.

QB Deshaun Watson's progress

While at the NFL Combine in early March, Stefanski shared that he and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey were traveling out to Los Angeles to visit with Deshaun Watson. Stefanski said that they spent about 24 hours out in L.A. and went to dinner with Watson. While Watson had spoken with Dorsey on the phone, the trip out to L.A. was a chance to spend time together in person and get to know one another.

"He's in a great place physically," Stefanski said. "It's beautiful out there. He's doing a great job with his rehab. Really, it was more of a me checking in with him, and starting to develop a relationship with Ken was really the most important part," Stefanski said.

Watson continues his rehab from his shoulder surgery in November, which ended his 2023 season. He's also taking steps forward in his return, as Stefanski said that Watson has started to throw again. Stefanski said that he anticipates Watson to throw in the spring with the team.

"He's right where he needs to be," Stefanski said. "Joe Sheehan, our trainer, went out and supervised his throwing. We'll see him in April, and we'll just continue that rehab. I'll stay out of it and the doctors and trainers will tell me when he's ready. I know he's doing a great job. He's right where he needs to be."

RB Nick Chubb's recovery

Stefanski reiterated on Monday that Chubb continues to progress in his rehab process from his knee injury and said that Chubb and the medical staff are "in lockstep." Stefanski said he also sees Chubb each day at their practice facility and catches up with him daily.

"I'm excited for Nick," Stefanski said. "He's doing a great job with his rehab as everybody can imagine. We'll just make sure that we continue to make decisions based on him and the medical staff. But excited about Nick."

Newest additions to the Browns' coaching staff

The Browns have made a number of changes to the coaching staff, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, throughout the offseason. Stefanski discussed some of the new recent additions to the coaching staff in Mike Vrabel as a consultant, as well as hiring of Nick Charlton as an assistant run game specialist.

"We're very excited to get Vrabes up there," Stefanski said. "I can tell you having him in and throwing a Browns sweatshirt on was a big deal for me. Get the kid back up to Northeast Ohio. I feel real strongly about the person and the coach. I've developed a relationship with Vrabes over the years, Andrew as well. So, when he didn't have a head coaching job this last cycle, I made sure that he knew that we would like to get him up there in some capacity. So that was really the beginning of that conversation. We had him up there last week. He's a resource. He's a resource for me, he's a resource for Andrew, and I'm very excited to have him."

Stefanski said they will know how Vrabel's role on game days plays out, and they are operating on a weekly basis at this stage of the offseason. He said that Vrabel will be around the CrossCountry Mortgage campus as much as he can.

Stefanski also said that hiring of Charlton didn't necessarily mean a complete re-construction of the run game.

"I think year to year you reconstruct everything," Stefanski said. "Honestly, I wouldn't look into that hire as we're doing something differently. That was just adding a good young coach to the roster to help us. But yeah, when you get through an off-season and you're looking at everything, run game pass, game protections, you name it."

Addition of WR Jerry Jeudy

To kick off the new league year and the start of free agency, the Browns acquired WR Jerry Jeudy in a trade with the Broncos for a 2024 fifth-round pick and a 2024-sixth round pick. They also signed Jeudy to a 3-year extension on March 19.

Jeudy joins a wide receiver corps that features Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore, as well as young players in Cedric Tillman and David Bell.

"We're excited about adding Jerry to that room," Stefanski said. "He's another talented player. He can win in a variety of ways. We just think if you add good players to complement what you have already, it makes life easier on the other guys as well. Jerry's a guy that we've spent a lot of time on both as he was coming out over the past few years. Really like his skill set, like his ability to separate, like his ability to make plays with the football."

Stefanski also highlighted Jeudy's route running, how he can win at the second level of separation and how he is strong with the ball in his hands as elements of Jeudy's game they liked.

"I mean he has the speed, the acceleration, the burst to make plays down the field," Stefanski said. "So, we're excited about the skillset, we're excited about the person."

First wave of free agency

As the new league year and free agency officially began on March 13, the Browns also made several signings official. They brought back different key pieces of their defense like DE Za'Darius Smith, DT Shelby Harris and DT Maurice Hurst II. The Browns also re-signed G Michael Dunn, S Rodney McLeod Jr., WR James Proche II and P Corey Bojorquez.

"There were cases we were able to bring guys back," Stefanski said. "I think the advantage is they know how we operate, know our program, we know what they're about. So those are guys that fit our culture, team and scheme, so excited about that."

The Browns also made important additions to the roster to add to position groups like LB Jordan Hicks, LB Devin Bush and DT Quentin Jefferson to fill out their front seven. They signed CB Tony Brown to another option in the secondary, as well as on special teams. They also signed Jameis Winston and Tyler Huntley to add depth to their quarterback room alongside Watson and second-year player Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

"We're excited about Jameis," Stefanski said. "I think Jameis is a really, really talented young player. Just getting to know him over the course of the last couple weeks. He's a great teammate, he's excited about helping the team. Obviously, we were able to bring in Tyler Huntley, another young player that we've competed against. I think it's just a matter of adding some good young players to the room."

They also signed RB Nyheim Hines, T Hakeem Adeniji, TE Giovanni Ricci and RB D'Onta Foreman to add depth on the offensive side of the ball.

As the Browns work to rebuild their offense under Dorsey, Stefanski said that he believes Berry has and will continue to add players over the course of the offseason.

"I don't think your roster is finalized in March," Stefanski said. "So, I think he's constantly looking and then it's our job, based on the roster, to construct the offense. So, we've always talked about that. You want to be versatile enough on offense to pivot based on where you're strongest in your position rooms, if you will. So those are always things that we're talking about."

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