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Why being 'aggressive' has multiple meanings for Browns' Andrew Berry

INDIANAPOLIS -- In his introductory press conference earlier this month, Andrew Berry used the term "aggressive" when it pertained to how he planned to attack free agency.

That same word came up this week at the 2020 NFL Combine. Berry made it clear his "aggressive" approach goes far beyond one area of roster building.

"When I say aggressive, it means a couple of things," Berry said. "From a macro perspective it means being deliberate of attacking every avenue of player acquisition."

First, there's the reason the entire NFL world is in Indianapolis this week: the 2020 draft. The aggressive mindset will certainly come into play there, as the Browns carry seven picks, starting with the No. 10 selection in the first round.

Berry said the Browns would be "flexible to move up and down the board and positioning ourselves to acquire players that we've targeted throughout that process." Though the Browns traded back in the draft on a number of occasions during Berry's first stint with the team, he said he wasn't necessarily inclined to do the same as the top decision-maker. 

"Philosophically I'm really down to acquiring the best players possible and the best fits for our organization," Berry said. "For me, we're going to be strategic and we're going to be thoughtful with any decision that we would make on the board. That doesn't mean it's going to hamstring us just in moving one direction.

"We're going to be flexible in that regard. Any strategic maneuver that allows us to reach our goals, acquire good players and the right people for our organization, we're not going to be bound to be staying static, going down, going up. We're going to do anything possible that allows us to improve the roster."

Check out behind the scenes photos of Browns coaches and executives watching combine workouts

Improving the roster also includes the players who are already on it. On multiple occasions, Berry said the Browns would be aggressive with pre-market extensions for the Browns' "internal core."

Just this week, Berry said he planned to meet with representatives of linebacker Joe Schobert, who is set to hit free agency in a few weeks. The Browns have a number of other players set to do the same, and Berry was clear they'd been in touch and had a plan for all of the players whose status is up in the air heading into 2020.

Berry disagreed with the notion he was playing catch-up in this area considering he's only been on the job since the start of the month.

"That is one of the things that we believe at our core that we are going to be aggressive in engaging in pre-market extensions for players that we view as pillar players — long-term fits for the organization," Berry said. "That does present its challenges, but those are challenges that we're going to have to face every year."

When the new league year begins March 18, it not only opens the door for free agency, but also trades. 

The Browns were one of the most active teams in that department under former general manager John Dorsey, and Berry certainly sees the value in that type of maneuver when it comes to improving a team's roster. His past year in Philadelphia under Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman further solidified that philosophy.

"I did work under probably the strongest wheeler-dealer in the league under Howie Roseman and it's something that you always pick up the phone and you listen to anything across the table," Berry said. "A lot of trade talk ends up being hollow across the NFL anyway. But again, we're going to exploit any opportunity to improve the roster through any means necessary.''

Now, back to Berry's original answer about free agency.

Berry said Tuesday the Browns plan to be "opportunistic" when the market opens March 18. What it doesn't mean, though, is burning through all of the team's cap space on Day 1. That would hinder and affect all of the other tenets of roster-building, where Berry plans to maintain his aggressive approach.

"It may not mean that on the first day we're going to be really, really heavy spenders every year," Berry said. "But if we do identify players that fill a need, fit the offensive or defensive profile on the field and fit the off-field profile, we're not going to be afraid to strike."

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