The Cleveland Browns have had a busy offseason and it’s not over yet just yet. The Browns and general manager Andrew Berry could have a few more moves up their sleeve as the regular season approaches.
Berry has already made some big splashes through free agency and the draft. The team signed former Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper to the largest contract in the league at his position and also brought aboard offensive tackle Jack Conklin to shore up the offensive line.
In the draft, Berry and his staff selected Alabama’s Jedrick Wills in the first round to fill out a tackle spot on the offensive line and later selected players like safety Grant Delpit, linebacker Jacob Phillips and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott to fill out other needs.
Andrew Berry: Browns Could Make Moves at ‘Any Position’
Berry joined the The Ken Carman Show With Anthony Lima on 92.3 The Fan to discuss the offseason moves on Wednesday and made certain to note that the Browns will continue to be aggressive in their approach to add talent.
“We’ll be opportunistic across the roster. And we do want to be responsible balancing both the short-term and long-term planning. … But if there’s something out there that ends up making sense — whether it’s a free agent acquisition or trade acquisition — we will do that really at any position on the 90-man roster. We don’t play for another four months so there are plenty of opportunities to continue to improve the team. The offseason doesn’t stop after that draft, so that will certainly be our mindset.”
As for what the the Browns are looking for, Berry went back to the three tenants he’s preached from the start.
“Smart, tough and accountable has been our manta since the beginning,” Berry said. “We are looking for guys to bring guys into the organization that have that as a foundation.”
Browns Linked to Free Agent Jadeveon Clowney
The most notable move the team has been reportedly weighing is for free agent pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney. It was reported that the Browns were close to a deal for the former No. 1 overall pick, but weren’t able to wrap it up.
The Browns currently have veteran DE Olivier Vernon holding down the spot opposite Myles Garrett, but could decide to swap him for Clowney. Vernon is due to make more than $15 million next season, but could be let go with no dead money for the Browns. However, following not taking a pass-rusher in the draft, Berry backed Vernon’s future with the team.
“Olivier is a good football player, and we like having good football players on the roster,” Berry told reporters on a conference call. “He is a talented defensive end. He is here and will continue to be here.”
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski echoed those comments from Berry when asked if the team not drafting a defensive end was a commitment to Vernon.
“Obviously, I think Olivier is a really great player. Unfortunately, he was banged up a little bit, but we look forward to all our guys contributing next year,” Stefanski said. “I wouldn’t say it was a message of any sort in the fact that we didn’t draft defensive ends. We are not in the business of sending messages via the draft. We just kind of trusted the board, and as the players came up, we made sure that we had the right people for the job.”
Browns Re-sign Rashard Higgins, Commit to OBJ
The Browns did make a big move this week, re-signing wide receiver Rashard Higgins on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.
Higgins was an unrestricted free agent, but didn’t draw a tremendous amount of interest on the open market. Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reported that Higgins turned down more money elsewhere to return to the Browns to play alongside Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
“I think he’s a talented young receiver. Has a really good rapport with Baker,” Berry told 92.3 The Fan of the signing Wednesday. “A reliably-handed pass catcher. We’ve always talked about adding competition, depth. This would be in the spirit (of that).”
Higgins was injured in the team’s opener, missing multiple weeks with an MCL sprain. He was never able to get on track after that, finding himself in Kitchen’s doghouse after some comments to media members on why he wasn’t active in Week 5. Higgins managed just four catches for 55 yards and one touchdown all of last year.
In the year prior, Higgins had 39 catches for 572 yards and four touchdowns — all career highs.
Berry also showed support for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on Wednesday, who has been the topic of trade rumors this offseason. While on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football he set the record straight on those reports.
“With all due respect to the question, I think this is actually a topic, at least from our perspective, there really hasn’t been a ton of ambiguity,” Berry said to host Nate Burleson. “We’ve been clear from the beginning that we view Odell as a fantastic player. We’re a better team with him on the field. We see him as a long-term member of the organization. We really like how he’s acclimated and adjusted with the new staff. So the rumors, that’s not something that we can control, but we’re happy to have him as a part of our organization.”