Savage, Jaguars call it off after contract talks stall

Ravens exec still might interview with Seahawks

January 19, 2003|By Brent Jones and Jamison Hensley | Brent Jones and Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Ravens director of college scouting Phil Savage will remain with the team after failing to reach an agreement to become the Jacksonville Jaguars' general manager.

In a surprising reversal of what seemed to be a done deal, Savage left Jacksonville last night and drove to his home in Alabama after talks broke down with Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver earlier in the day. Savage and Weaver had a 45-minute meeting but could not agree on Savage's salary.

Jacksonville reportedly is paying new coach Jack Del Rio, who received a strong recommendation from Savage, $1.3 million a season for the next five years, but does not want to pay that much for a general manager.

Savage's offer, according to a league source, was substantially lower.

"It was definitely worth my while to explore the opportunity with Jacksonville," said Savage, who also was a finalist for front office positions with the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears two years ago before pulling his name from consideration. "Mr. Weaver seems to be a heck of a guy and a really solid owner. Unfortunately, he and I couldn't get on the same page."

Savage still has a tentative interview for the Seattle Seahawks' general manager position set for tomorrow but was undecided as of yesterday whether he would go.

"For him to leave, it would have to be the perfect fit," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

"It speaks volumes to the respect and treatment by [Ravens owner Art] Modell, his relationship with me and the successful structure we have in place."

Savage interviewed with the Jaguars on Jan. 11, returned for a second interview five days later and was pivotal in the hiring of Del Rio. Savage pushed Del Rio as coach during his first interview, and it looked as though the two would be introduced as general manager and coach during a news conference Friday evening.

Instead, Savage and Weaver failed to reach an agreement all day Friday, though Savage attended Del Rio's introductory news conference that night with the hope a deal could be reached yesterday. Savage and Del Rio worked together with the Ravens from 1999 to 2001, when Del Rio was linebackers coach.

"Basically, they couldn't come to an agreement," Jaguars spokesman Dan Edwards said. "They decided it was not going to work out. Wayne was impressed with him but will continue the interview process."

Edwards said there is no chance negotiations will resume.

"It's surprising because everyone was expecting it to be finalized [yesterday]," he said. "There was still a difference separating them."

The Jaguars might now turn to Buffalo Bills football operations director Tom Modrak, their own personnel director - Rick Reiprish - or Ravens pro personnel director James Harris, all of whom interviewed for the job. Edwards said none of the three has been eliminated. Harris also is scheduled to meet with the Seahawks again.

The Ravens were in the process of filling the void left by Savage's expected departure but will now continue as usual under him for April's draft. In seven drafts with Savage as director of college scouting, the Ravens have selected seven Pro Bowl players.

"My intentions are to go forward with the Ravens and look forward to the 2003 draft," Savage said.

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