Browns GM Andrew Berry calls his new assistant GM Catherine Raiche "rock star." (TheLandOnDemand)
Catherine Raiche taking on more responsibility as Browns football executive
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.
Andrew Berry calls her “a rock star … one of the most talented front office executives.”
Kevin Stefanski says she’s “awesome … a star … knows every area of football.”
So who is Catherine Raiche, the subject of such high praise, and what exactly does she do for the Browns?
Raiche was hired by Berry in May after Kwesi Adofo-Mensah left the Browns to be GM of the Minnesota Vikings. Berry gave Raiche the titles of vice president of football operations and assistant general manager.
Raiche and Berry bonded in Berry’s one year in 2019 mentoring under Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman. There, Berry acted as Raiche’s supervisor in football operations.
Upon joining the Browns, Raiche took maternity leave soon after delivering her first son, Zavier, in August and returned to work in the season’s 10th week. The Browns finally got around to introducing her to media on Wednesday at the NFL Combine.
As far as her role in the organization, Berry said, “There is really nothing that she cannot do. She can evaluate. She can manage. She can lead. She is really strong in contract management. Super smart. Super strategic.”
Raiche is on a career path to become the first female GM in the NFL. She’s been the league’s highest-ranking female football executive since she joined the Eagles in 2019. She credits Roseman and Berry for accelerating her career.
“I got to get a glimpse of everything as I grew and developed in my role [in Philadelphia],” Raiche said. “One of the great things about Andrew is if you do a good job, he is going to keep giving some stuff to you, trusts you and empowers you, which really allowed me to grow super quickly and learn a ton.”
As the first transaction season with the Browns unfolds with Raiche on board, she said she is very much involved in free agency and draft preparations.
“I am part of our senior group strategy group,” she said. “Really, helping Andrew with going through film evaluations, both pro and college, and as well as all strategic planning for player acquisitions and all of the strategy that goes behind the acquisitions we are going to make in the offseason. Very involved on both of these processes.”
Raiche also sat in on interviews with Berry and Stefanski when they filled the vacancies at defensive and special teams coordinators.
“Cat is as good as I have been around,” Stefanski said. “She is sharp as a tack. She knows every area of football – coaching, personnel, contracts and you name it. Has an incredible and varied background. I enjoy spending a lot of time just sitting in her office and bouncing things off of her. She has a very unique viewpoint. I think she is a star.”
Raiche was hired about six weeks after the Browns acquired Deshaun Watson amid the scandal of sexual assault allegations made by female massage therapists. Watson settled more than 20 civil lawsuits last year and served an 11-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. I asked Raiche if it was a difficult decision for her to join the Browns after bringing Watson aboard.
“It was not, and the reason is I have complete trust in the due diligence and the very thorough process,” she said. “Knowing how Andrew operates, I knew that anything that had gone through to get to this decision was definitely well thought of and they had left no stone unturned. For those reasons, I felt really comfortable.”
Would she have recommended the Browns invest six draft choices and $230 million guaranteed for Watson?
She answered, “It is a tough question to answer now because that is a hypothetical, and I don’t really like to go into hypothetically what I would have done in that situation. All I will say is that joining the club after this decision was made was absolutely not a concern for me. I felt really comfortable there.”
Does she feel the success of the Browns is directly tied to the success of Watson?
“I would say to me, your question has a keyword in it – it is ‘team.’ The success of this team is tied to the team, and it is not just him,” Raiche said. “He is a big part of it, but there are a lot of other players and staff members. We all work together and coaches, we all work together towards the same goal. It takes everyone.”
Raiche is a native of Montreal, Quebec, and holds degrees in law and tax. She went into business law at first and then followed her passion and joined the CFL Montreal Alouettes as an intern. She held front-office positions with Montreal and the Toronto Argonauts, and very briefly with the XFL, before Roseman hired her in Philadelphia in 2019.
She speaks three languages fluently -- French, which she considers her first language, English and Spanish.
I asked Raiche if she also speaks analytics.
“You have to with the Browns,” she said with a laugh. “Definitely.”