Andrew Berry gives Deshaun Watson the help he needs with latest offseason moves
Offseason championships are nothing new for the Browns. It's happened so much over the last quarter of a century that some have grown numb from celebrating wins in the spring but lamenting losses in the fall.
So it's an understandable reaction if some may take a certain wait-and-see approach to what general manager Andrew Berry has done over the last two weeks since free agency started. It's almost commendable.
A big reason for that is because, for all of Berry's moves, there's a certain reality that hangs over this Browns season. It's the reality these moves most likely will not be the primary factor determining whether or not they are successful.
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It's going to come down to quarterback Deshaun Watson's performance.
That point has been pounded into the ground since the Browns' most recent season ended in Pittsburgh. As Watson's suspension hung over everything a year ago, his on-field performance will be the constant specter that hovers this year.
Berry checked a lot of the boxes that he needed to once the new league year began on March 15. He immediately went to work re-designing the defense, specifically the defensive line.
Along with that, Berry took care of the Browns' own free agents that he felt needed to return. That included center Ethan Pocic and linebackers Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takitaki, two leaders on the defense whose value was as evident when they were injured last year as when they were on the field.
The last few days were about addressing the primary factor to the Browns' success. Obviously, Watson himself will control a large part of he narrative through his own performance. And head coach Kevin Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will have a say in it with the offensive scheme they design to maximize their quarterback's talents.
However, a good quarterback typically also has good talent around him. Yes, a quarterback can and should elevate his teammates, but having quality targets to throw to can make things much easier.
That's what Berry did this past week. He looked at the Browns' receiving corps past Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, as well as the tight ends past David Njoku, and deemed it not good enough.
It's not that a David Bell can't grow from his rookie-year performance, or that Harrison Bryant isn't a serviceable tight end. It's just that, when the goal is not just playoffs, but Super Bowl, and you play in the AFC, good enough isn't, well, good enough.
"I think every year your goal is to make sure that you get to the playoffs, and I do think that there are different points organizationally where your roster or your core is in a different place," Berry said at the NFL Combine. "We feel really good about a lot of our key and top players being in the middle of their prime and certainly think that this is a year where we can be very competitive. ... We want to be playing deep into the season every year and that'll be the goal."
That's the mindset that led the Browns to mortgage what they did to acquire Watson a year ago. It's the mindset Berry has taken with regards to the offensive skill positions this season.
Watson loves throwing to tight ends, especially in the red zone? Go out and get him a tight end in Jordan Akins who he played with while in Houston.
No one in the Browns' receiving corps, outside of Cooper and Peoples-Jones, have anything close to significant NFL production? Go out and trade for Elijah Moore, and then follow that up by signing veteran Marquise Goodwin.
As Berry and the rest of the Browns' brass head to Phoenix for the NFL Owners' Meetings starting Sunday, he doesn't do so feeling as if the work is done. There's still ways he can tinker with the roster to make it even better through free agency or trade.
The bigger focus comes in a month, when the draft arrives in late April. Of course, the Browns will once again, thanks to the Moore trade, be waiting until the third round for their first pick to arrive, unless they move back up using some of their six day-three picks.
Another receiver, another running back and maybe even another tight end could all emerge from the draft. If they do, they'll just add to the work that's being done to help the Browns ultimately win, not just the offseason, but during the season as well.
Contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @ceasterlingABJ
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Andrew Berry gives Deshaun Watson help through offseason moves