Andrew Berry tends to set and attack serious priorities each offseason.
Back in 2020, the Cleveland Browns GM rebuilt the offense and put the league on notice the team would contend.
And heading into 2021, the defense had a completely new look, with 8 new starters from free agency and the draft.
What will be the priority heading into next season?
Berry outlined reasons he’s optimistic for the 2022 season
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 11, 2022
Cleveland has several important free agents to deal with, injured players, and several big holes on the roster.
Despite a subpar showing, it is unlikely Berry drafts or signs a whole new special teams unit.
Although a kicker and punter are probably high on his “to do” list.
Here is what we think are Andrew Berry’s 3 most important decisions heading into 2022.
1. Does the Quarterback Room Need Re-Working?
Berry’s biggest quarterback question has little to do with Baker Mayfield‘s current status.
Mayfield, coming off multiple injuries and with $19 million guaranteed, is locked in at QB-1 for now.
But the 2023 season will be here soon, and there are questions about Mayfield to be addressed.
Last year taught the Browns they can not expect Mayfield to play every game, every season.
#Browns GM Andrew Berry told reporters that he "fully expects" Baker Mayfield to be their starting QB next season. They look forward to him getting healthier this offseason and seeing him bounce back in 2022.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 11, 2022
And while Case Keenum is 2-0 in relief, can he take over for a long spell if Mayfield goes down?
The question is complicated by Keenum’s salary, which represents the 2nd-biggest potential cap savings target.
Should Berry look for someone younger, more mobile, and with a stronger arm to back up his starter?
And would he promise that player a legitimate shot at the starting job, or leave a Mayfield extension in play?
2. How Much Does Berry Invest in Kicking?
Andrew Berry would love to give Kevin Stefanski a reliable kicker and a better punter before next season.
Chris Blewit is signed to a futures contract, but there is no active roster kicker or punter on the Browns right now.
There are 7 free agent kickers (out of 12 overall) who hit over 90-percent of field goals last season.
Nick Folk and Younghoe Koo lead the list, but their current teams will probably make reasonable offers.
#KohlsElite Chase McLaughlin of the Browns smashes a 57-yard field goal.#KohlsKicking // @KohlsHighlights
— Kohl's Kicking Camps (@KohlsKicking) September 26, 2021
In order to steal someone of that stature, should Berry throw extra cash their way- in excess of $1 million?
Or would he use a late draft pick to bring in an inexperienced, but strong-legged type from the college ranks?
Cincinnati’s rookie kicker and Baltimore’s GOAT combined to win 8 games on late field goals this season.
Cleveland lost a game after a botched punt.
3. How To Address Wide Receiver Needs
Way back before the 2022 season kicked off, Cleveland thought they had a top-flight wide receiver room.
Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry looked healthy and Mayfield’s favorite, Rashard Higgins, re-signed with the team.
Anthony Schwartz would need some grooming, but Donovan Peoples-Jones was ready to build off 2020.
As a bonus, Demetric Felton looked more like a wide receiver than a running back.
Holy smokes. Baker Mayfield launches a Hail Mary and Donovan Peoples-Jones comes down with it! pic.twitter.com/EucELAu2lq
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 17, 2021
Beckham left, Landry’s mad, Higgins is in the doghouse, Schwartz can’t catch a deep ball, and Felton can’t break a tackle.
Stefanski tried to make Peoples-Jones into a WR-1, but he is far better fighting for shorter passes than going deep.
It reminds me of when Berry signed 6 defensive free agents in 2020 and realized he had to do it better in 2021.
Berry will rebuild the receiver’s room, but will it be a splashy free agent, draft pick, or trade target that steps in at WR-1?
Concerned Browns Fan says
The receivers can’t throw the ball to themselves.. For all of you, that wanted to make OBJ the bad guy, did you happen to watch the video Sr posted? Probably not. Your loyalties lie with a quarterback that has the most int’s, and batted down passes since entering the league. Please, someone please explain to me why?
Jarvis, will go to a new team, and have a great year, just like OBJ is doing. Berry will bring in more receivers, who will suffer the same as the previous TWO PRO BOWLERS we had. Oh, and the THREE STUD TIGHT ENDS WE HAVE!!
What will be the excuse then? I’m sure the “Baker is our guy crowd” will put the blame on Stafanski..
At what point, do all of you, that are blinded by your loyalties to a first round bust, start realizing, Baker is a low end starter, high end back-up.
Concerned Browns Fan says
Thanks for allowing my post Pat. It seems Wendi, doesn’t allow my post on her blog. It’s either, because, I am not a fan of Baker Mayfield, or, my writing is superior, to hers..
You’re stuck with Baker in 2022. Fans don’t have a say, Berry and Stefanski make that decision. We’ll find out in 2022 if he’s a “low end” starter or not… what are the alternatives? Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodger are not happening. Watson, WInston, Garoppolo are no magic bullet due to injuries, questionable leadership, etc. How about Mariota, Trubisky? Neither have proved anything more than Baker has already. Minshew? come on… What about the Draft? Not a great QB class. So you’re stuck with Baker for atleast 2022. Mayfield has proven to be inconsistent, and I worry he might be Carson Wentz, but maybe he and Stefanski will pull it together next year. I hear people praise Derek Carr for some reason, when his first 4 seasons were practically carbon copies of Bakers. If he disappoints in 2022, that probably means another losing season and that means going all in on the next guy.
Pat Opperman says
The last time we had a “not a good QB draft” class, we got Mahomes and Watson out of it.
Carr intrigues me, but you’re right about his early years. He’s another guy who can do it, but disappoints often. That said, he never had a decent offensive line and he leads all active QBs in final-drive victory percentage (wins 50% of opportunities). But I think this is a “best of what’s realistically available” option, as opposed to a real positive change.
Pat Opperman says
Question of the moment is how much of a leash is Mayfield on heading into 2022? And how much will Berry pressure Mayfield? Draft a kid? Add a viable (tho likely underwhelming) competitor at QB2- (Mariota, Jones, Trubisky)?
And if Berry has trouble drawing free agent receivers to Cleveland, does that shorten the leash, or even change the dynamic on 2022?
I still believe Mayfield’s biggest liability is between the ears. And while he talks about loving a challenge, when he senses he is losing, he tends to withdraw or “lose himself” like he said in 2019.
Looks like there will be plenty to write and comment about between now and September!