BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said that the organization reached a contract extension with chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta.
The extension is a five-year contract that aligns with the contracts of head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry.
When the Browns hired Stefanski and Berry, the Haslams said they believed the team found alignment, something they had been searching for since buying the Browns in 2012.
“If you looked at the other 31 teams, there are all kinds of different structures, but if you look at the successful organizations that are consistently in the playoffs year after year, there is alignment within the organization and they have the right people in the right place – coach and GM. That is what we are focusing on tremendously, and that alignment is something that is really, really important,” Jimmy Haslam said in a press conference prior to the hiring of Stefanski and Berry.
Berry and Stefanski and DePodesta all have Ivy League connections. Berry is a Harvard graduate and played cornerback for the Crimson. Stefanski is a Penn graduate and played defensive back for the Quakers. DePodesta, like Berry, is a Harvard graduate and played both football and baseball for the Crimson.
Perhaps it was the Ivy League connection that helped the three mesh so well together, perhaps not. But last season was a massive success for a team riddled with misses on coaching and front office hires for decades.
The Browns made sure to lock up that success for years to come in reaching the contract extension with DePodesta.
"Paul's going to be with us for a significant amount of time," Jimmy Haslam said. "That makes all the sense and we're super excited about that."
The contract extension was completed in 2020 but Jimmy Haslam said that DePodesta isn't one to have announced that news.
DePodesta is responsible for many of the changes within the Browns organization including the hiring of Stefanski and Berry, as well as helping find players in the draft that fit well within the team's vision of success.
Many have noted the Browns shifting to a more analytic-focused approach under DePodesta's watch, which isn't always just "numbers and spreadsheets," as he put it last year.
"When I think of analytics, I just think of having sure frameworks to make decisions under uncertainty. Everything we do in these jobs is really built around uncertainty. What players are we going to take in the draft. What we are going to call on third-and-eight. It's all about uncertainty," DePodesta said last year. "What frameworks can you create that at least stack the odds in your favor give you a better chance of being successful and whether that is drafting a player, hiring a coach or calling a play. It is not necessarily about numbers and spreadsheets."
DePodesta has described his job as defining the team and its processes and making sure they are able to continue implementing them as they add new staff and new players to the roster.
"I think my role really first and foremost is to not only help us create, but also implement, that shared vision and then ultimately make sure that we stick to it, really relentlessly and that's really my role," DePodesta said last year. "I look at all the processes that are within a football operation. Whether that, again, whether that is hiring someone, whether that is how we do scouting, whether it is how we look at things with numbers. I sort of dig into all those processes and make sure that they align with our vision and that we all as a group continue to stay aligned and be on the same page."
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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