In recent years, the NFL has taken a lot of well-deserved flak over the topic of front office diversity. The majority of NFL players are Black. Yet the number of Blacks who hold coaching and front office positions remains far, far small, despite the NFL’s efforts to reverse that unsettling trend.
Fortunately, there have been some notable exceptions in recent NFL history. In January, the Cleveland Browns announced that they were hiring Andrew Berry as their general manager. That move came as a pleasant surprise not just because Berry is Black — but also because he’s so young.
Andrew Berry’s professional background
Berry attended Harvard University, where he played cornerback for the Harvard Crimson, while earning first a bachelor’s degree in economics and then a master’s in computer science.
Soon after graduating, Berry got a call from the Indianapolis Colts, who offered him a position as an entry-level scout. As Berry himself put it in an interview with Harvard, “that scouting assistant position was a lot like getting a Ph.D. in football.”
After two years as an assistant, Berry moved up to a pro scout position with the Colts. The following year, he took over as pro scouting coordinator, a post he would hold from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, Berry took a job with the Cleveland Browns, spending three years as their vice president of player personnel.
In 2019, he left the Browns to take a position as vice president of football operations with the Philadelphia Eagles. Then last January, the Browns lured Berry back by offering him a joint position as general manager and executive vice president of football operations. With that, Berry became the youngest GM in the league — still young enough to be an NFL player himself.
The Browns’ interest in Andrew Berry
The Browns had initially targeted Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager George Paton for the position. Yet when Paton removed himself from consideration, the Browns quickly pivoted to Berry. Because he had already spent three years with the team, the Browns had plenty of evidence regarding Berry’s acumen and football sensibilities.
Berry spent most of his first tenure with the Browns working under Sashi Brown. Brown and Berry both had strong analytics backgrounds, which they put to good use in tearing down the team to acquire draft picks.
Not all of their picks look great in retrospect — they passed on Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft — but the Browns apparently developed plenty of respect for Berry’s vision and professionalism.
Moves with the Browns so far
Andrew Berry didn’t waste any time before making some big moves. He quickly orchestrated a number of impressive moves, prompting ESPN to rank the Browns as having had the second-best offseason, behind only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To begin with, Berry snagged some impressive prospects in the draft.
Most importantly, the Browns used their first-round pick to draft Jedrick Wills Jr., an incredibly talented tackle who should slot in as a starter right away. Berry also made some key free agent signings, picking up the best available lineman in Jack Conklin and one of the top tight ends in the NFL in Austin Hooper.
Then in July, Berry accomplished the most important thing the Browns had on their agenda: extending superstar defensive end Myles Garrett. The team tied him up until 2026 with a five-year contract worth $125 million. Of that total, a stunning $100 million is guaranteed. That number alone is sufficient to make Garrett the most highly paid defensive player of all time, according to ESPN.