AP source: Browns part ways with VP of personnel Highsmith

CLEVELAND (AP) — Andrew Berry has quickly gotten to work on restructuring the Browns.

A day after Berry was officially hired as Cleveland’s new general manager, the team parted ways with vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith, a person familiar with the Browns’ latest front-office shakeup told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Highsmith, who was with Cleveland for two years, has left along with college scouting director Steve Malin, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the moves have not been made public.

Highsmith’s departure was expected for weeks and happened once Berry returned after spending one season in Philadelphia as the Eagles’ vice president of football operations. Berry, who worked in Cleveland’s front office from 2016-18, is the NFL’s youngest GM and only the second African American currently serving in that role.

Highsmith had been rumored to be on his way out since Dec. 31, when GM John Dorsey resigned after two seasons. Dorsey brought Highsmith to Cleveland after working with him in Green Bay. Highsmith, who played six seasons in the NFL, has been linked to a possible job at Miami, where he was a star running back for the Hurricanes in the 1980s.

“I wanted to go in a different direction because my philosophy on football is different from theirs,” Highsmith told ESPN. “I may go to Aruba, or go to the Masters. I’m going to take some time to do some fun stuff.”

Cleveland’s front office has been in almost constant turmoil since owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam bought the team in 2012. Dorsey was brought in after some dreadful drafts and he overhauled the team’s roster. But his group, which included Highsmith and assistant GM Eliot Wolf, didn’t embrace some of the data provided by the Browns’ analytics department and something had to give.

The Browns were expected to contend this season but went just 6-10 amid endless drama. Coach Freddie Kitchens was fired after one season. He’s been replaced by former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who is 37.

It remains to be seen if Berry and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta will retain Wolf, the son of Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf. Like Highsmith, Wolf was hired by Dorsey.

Malin spent two seasons in Cleveland. He also worked for New Orleans and the New York Giants.