CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns front office makeover continues.
General manager John Dorsey has added Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf as his assistant general manager and former Packers senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith as vice president of player personnel.
The team made the additions official Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re lucky to add Alonzo and Eliot to our personnel staff,” Dorsey said in a statement. “Alonzo’s 25 years of experience in the National Football League as a player, scout and personnel executive give him a unique perspective when it comes to evaluating talent and building a team. Alonzo and I share the same passion for this great game of football. We are going to set out to find talented football players that possess that same passion for the game. Eliot has been a fine executive in this league for some time now. It’s been great to watch him grow up around this league when I was with him in Green Bay and from afar for the last five-plus years. He’s been a big reason for the consistent success the Packers have experienced over the last decade.
“Adding Eliot and Alonzo to our personnel leadership group, that already includes Andrew Berry, will strengthen us and help us develop into the type of personnel department we need to achieve the success our great fans deserve.”
Berry remains vice president of player personnel along with Highsmith. Ken Kovach, who held the same title the last 2 years, remains with the organization and transitions to a vice president role in the strategy department led by chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta.
Wolf, who is the son of Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf, also had an opportunity to remain in Green Bay or reunite with Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden in Oakland, but he chose Cleveland.
“I’m so thankful for this opportunity and I’m really excited about joining the Cleveland Browns organization,” Wolf said. “I really like the direction of where leadership is headed. We’re going to build this team the right way and to be a part of that from the ground up is going to be special.”
The 35-year old Wolf hoped to be named the Packers new GM after Ted Thompson stepped aside but the team promoted Brian Gutekunst instead. Gutekunst gave Wolf, who was still under contract and had spent 14 years with the club, permission to seek other opportunities this week.
“He’s going to be a general manager someday,” Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said of Wolf during Gutekunst’s introductory press conference on Monday. “He’s extremely talented, and I have high respect for him. I really believe he’s got a great career ahead of him.”
Highsmith played 6 seasons in the NFL and spent the past 19 seasons in the Packers player personnel department.
Highsmith joined the Packers as a college scout in 1999 where he spent 13 years on the college scouting staff before being promoted to senior personnel executive in 2012. During his time in Green Bay, the Packers earned 13 trips to the playoffs, nine NFC North division titles and a victory in Super Bowl XLV. From 1999-17, Green Bay won 304 games, fourth-most in the NFL during that span. The Packers also ranked second in the NFL with an average of 25.3 points per game from 1999-17.
“This is going to be an exciting challenge,” Highsmith said. “It’s great to reunite with John Dorsey. He is someone I’ve looked up to and has always been a mentor to me. We had great success together in Green Bay and we both understand the hard work it takes to create a winning environment. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be part of something special.
“Some of my fondest memories in football were playing the Browns in the playoffs one year and the fans throwing dog bones at us so we had to turn around and play that series at the opposite end zone. I believe in the Haslams, Coach Jackson and John, and I’m looking forward to helping build the type of team Cleveland Browns fans will be proud of.”
In addition to the addition’s of Wolf and Highsmith, the Dorsey added 3 more familiar faces from Kansas City.
Jimmy Noel has been hired as assistant director of pro scouting, Matt Donahoe as a scout and Dan Zegers as personnel coordinator.
In addition to the moves announced today, the Browns also parted ways with former Colts GM Ryan Grigson.