The team announced Tuesday that Paul DePodesta is leaving his executive post with the New York Mets to become Cleveland's chief strategy officer.
Answerable only to team owner Jimmy Haslam, DePodesta will sit above Sashi Brown, the newly anointed executive vice president of football operations. Per a release from the Browns, DePodesta will be tasked with "assessing and implementing best practices and strategies that will provide the organization with the comprehensive resources needed to make optimal decisions."
"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 in the release. "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."
It's a stunning hire on the surface.
DePodesta became known to many as a central figure in Michael Lewis' book Moneyball, which chronicled the hiring of DePodesta by then-Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane to incorporate sabermetrics to build a low-budget, high-production roster.
Seen by many as an analytics guru, DePodesta went on to serve as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers before taking executive roles with the San Diego Padres and Mets. New York's National League East title in 2015 made him the only MLB executive to win division titles with five different organizations.
It's a signing sure to draw snarky chuckles from football fans wondering what on earth the Browns are doing at this stage. From another angle, the combination of DePodesta and Brown form an intriguing combination of original thinkers atop a franchise that could use some original thinking. ESPN reported that DePodesta is expected to help the franchise in areas of player development, sports science and analytics.
Of course, the Browns still have to hire a coach and general manager after firing Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer. Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Jaguars offensive line coach Doug Marrone, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott all plan to interview for the coaching spot this week, per Rapoport, with the general manager hire coming after that spot is filled. The team has also been linked to Bengals coordinators Hue Jackson and Paul Guenther and Patriots defensive play-caller Matt Patricia.
They aren't much fun during the season, but Cleveland sure knows how to make the offseason a wild ride.