Continuing their unconventional approach this offseason, the Cleveland Browns have announced the hiring of Paul DePodesta of the New York Mets as the team's chief strategy officer.
DePodesta -- who helped the Mets become National League champions last season -- will be above newly hired executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown in the organizational hierarchy and will report to owner Jimmy Haslam, according to sources.
"We are fortunate to bring in Paul, an extremely talented, highly respected sports executive who will add a critical dimension to our front office," Haslam said. "His approach and ambition to find the best pathways for organizational success transcend one specific sport and his experience as a high-level sports executive make him a terrific addition to the Cleveland Browns.
"While we are excited about what Paul will provide our organization, we remain fully focused on the critical task of identifying the right head coach and player personnel executive who will provide the football expertise needed to be successful."
The Browns expect DePodesta to help members of the team's player-development, sports-science, high-performance and analytics departments maximize their efforts. He will also have a significant voice in determining Browns personnel decisions, including what, if anything, the team does this offseason with former first-round draft pick Johnny Manziel. He will also be part of the group that conducts the coaching search.
"Paul has invaluable experience in management and leadership with a number of highly successful sports teams," Brown said. "His ability to create better processes and systems throughout organizations, his use of data as a tool to produce better outcomes, and his relentless focus on looking for innovative ways to create more success will be a strong asset as we look to be as comprehensive as possible in our decision-making."
Those who have worked with DePodesta during his MLB career also speak highly of his front-office acumen.
"Paul completely reorganized the Mets; scouting and player-development functions and had an extraordinary impact in both areas, but he was also very directly involved in our trade and free-agent acquisitions," Mets GM Sandy Alderson said. "His commitment to excellence and his passion for innovation will be missed by the Mets and all of baseball. I wish him well with the Browns."
Although his success has been achieved in professional baseball, DePodesta has wanted opportunities in the NFL.
"Cleveland and football have always held a special place in my heart," DePodesta said. "It was 20 years ago this month, after pursing my first love of football and looking at every possible job in the NFL, that I got the biggest break I could imagine -- a job offer from the American League champion Cleveland Indians. As excited as I was then, I am even more excited now to return to Cleveland and to try to help the Browns."