Friday, December 30, 2005
Sources: Browns ready to fire GM Savage
ESPN.com news services
The Cleveland Browns plan to fire Senior VP and General Manager Phil Savage over "philosophical differences," primarily over salary-cap management issues, league sources tell ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
However, there are ongoing talks between Browns owner Randy Lerner, team president John Collins and Savage to try to reach a deal in which Savage would accept a reduced role and still keep a job with the team.
In that proposed new role, Savage would run the football personnel department, while an additional executive would be hired to manage the salary cap. Both would report to Collins.
Savage had resisted the proposed reduced role over the past several days, but there were talks late Friday afternoon to see if a compromise can be reached without Savage losing his job.
Browns re-sign Bodden
Cleveland cornerback Leigh Bodden signed a
four-year contract extension on Friday. The 24-year-old defensive back has 52 tackles and three interceptions thus far in 2005.
Collins has denied that the team plans to fire Savage, including through a statement on the team's Web site that said Savage "is and will continue to be our senior vice president and general manager."
Late Friday, Collins told the Associated Press: "Phil's not going anywhere. He hasn't been fired, and he's not going to be fired. There is no reduction of responsibility. There is no rift."
Mortensen, however, has confirmed the team's plan with several sources, and stands by his report.
Savage joined the Browns as senior vice president and general manager on Jan. 6, 2005. Savage spent the last nine seasons with the Baltimore Ravens organization, including the last two (2003-04) as the Ravens' director of player personnel, and is known throughout the NFL as one of the league's top talent evaluators. Savage, a 14-year veteran of the NFL, worked directly with Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome to oversee both college and pro scouting. Savage was named the Ravens' player personnel director in 2003.
In addition to his responsibilities of scouting collegiate players around the country, Savage was involved in many of the day-to-day operations of the team and negotiated contracts of late-round draft picks. In his nine years with the Ravens organization, Savage saw the franchise earn a 72-71-1 regular-season record, including three post-season appearances with a 5-2 record, and the highlight -- winning Super Bowl XXXV over the N.Y. Giants in 2000 after a 12-4 record.
Ray Anderson, the Atlanta Falcons' chief administration officer, has been named as a possible candidate to replace savage. Anderson has had no direct contact with the Browns, but league asources say there has been third-party contact to gauge his interest in the job.
The Browns also have had discussions with Mike Keenan about taking a position in their business operations.