NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE A done deal: Savage new Browns GM
With Phil Savage in the fold, the Browns can focus on finding a new coach.
BEREA (AP) -- Phil Savage was hired as general manager of the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, inheriting one the NFL's least talented teams desperate for someone to fix years of errors in free agency and the draft.
Savage spent the past two seasons as the Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel. He finalized his contract with the Browns, who are coming off a disastrous 4-12 season that included a nine-game losing streak and coach Butch Davis' resignation on Nov. 30.
The announcement of Savage's hiring came at the end of a day of negotiations between the Browns and his agent, Neil Cornrich. Savage will have the added title of senior vice president.
The club said he will be introduced at a 5 p.m. news conference today.
"Cleveland is better today because of Phil Savage," said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, once considered the frontrunner for the Browns' job. "They will now have someone that really knows what type of players it takes to play in this league."
The 39-year-old Savage is returning to the team that gave him his start in the NFL. He was an assistant defensive coach under Bill Belichick with the Browns from 1991-93 before moving into the team's scouting department.
In Baltimore, Savage spent seven seasons as the club's director of college scouting, working from his home in Mobile, Ala., before he was promoted to personnel director in 2003 as general manager Ozzie Newsome's top aide.
Savage has made a name for himself in the league as an astute talent evaluator with a succession of quality drafts that eventually led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title after the 2000 season.
In 1996, the Ravens' first year in Baltimore after moving from Cleveland, Savage used two first-round picks to select offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis, who have gone to a combined 15 Pro Bowls.
In all, Savage and Newsome picked 10 Pro Bowlers in nine years.
"Phil was a very tireless worker," Newsome said. "He was very thorough in everything that he did. He knew the right questions to ask me to make sure we were making the right decisions. I'm not going to be able to replace Phil's work ethic."
Meanwhile, the Browns' record on draft day has been abysmal with first-round picks Tim Couch (No. 1, 1999), Courtney Brown (No. 1, 2000), Gerard Warren (No. 3, 2001), William Green (No. 16, 2002), Jeff Faine (No. 21, 2003) and Kellen Winslow (No. 6, 2004) all failing to meet expectations.
In addition, 54 of the 64 draft picks made by Savage and the Ravens since 1996 made an opening day roster. By comparison, the Browns have made 15 picks since 1999 who are no longer in the league.
Savage previously turned down offers for a GM-type role in Chicago, Miami and Jacksonville.
Savage's hiring allows the Browns, who have gone 9-23 in the past two seasons, to focus on finding a coach.
The club interviewed Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brad Childress on Tuesday. Today, they'll interview New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and will meet with Pittsburgh offensive line coach Russ Grimm on Saturday.
Next week, the club will have a formal meeting with Terry Robiskie, who took over when Davis quit.