Old ties, but new titles for Ravens

Led by Savage as director, player personnel trio sees familiarity as strength

February 05, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

With the promotion of three front office members yesterday, the Ravens essentially added a rung to their player personnel bureaucracy.

All those involved, though, say they wouldn't want it any other way.

The Ravens named Phil Savage director of player personnel, which essentially makes him the top point of a triangle that includes two others who gained new titles yesterday: George Kokinis as pro personnel director and Eric DeCosta as director of college scouting.

Previously, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome oversaw a triangle that included Savage (who was director of college scouting) and James Harris, the former pro personnel director. Newsome remains the head person in the front office, and Savage will serve as an intermediary between Newsome and the scouting and pro departments.

Savage's position was created in part by the departure of Harris, who became the Jacksonville Jaguars' vice president of player personnel two weeks ago.

"I felt like if [Harris] left, then I would get a move up to be over both areas [college scouting and pro personnel], and I think that's more because of experience level," said Savage, 37, who has been with owner Art Modell's franchise for 12 years. "Also, most teams have a general manager and they don't drop down to a college and pro director. I was hopeful all along of being the person that would go into that position.

"Aside from title, the important thing for me was responsibility. I just felt like this was really what I was hoping for to be able to round out my resume in terms of the pro side."

Said Newsome: "The communication is still going to be the same. We are just utilizing all of our resources the best we can."

The announcements yesterday officially ended monthlong speculation over Savage's future with the Ravens.

He was the Jaguars' No. 1 choice for their front office job, and a reunion with former Ravens linebackers coach Jack Del Rio - now the head coach in Jacksonville - seemed imminent. But the deal fell through a day after Del Rio was named coach because of a salary issue and a lack of clarity on his responsibilities.

Savage also was rumored to be in the running for the still-vacant Seattle Seahawks general manager position, but he declined to be interviewed.

With the Ravens, Savage knows he is second to Newsome and will work primarily with Kokinis and DeCosta, both of whom are friends he has dealt with for years.

"We've worked together, and they've both been scouts for me. There is definitely a comfort level with those guys," said Savage, who plans on moving to Baltimore permanently and is getting married in May.

Kokinis' name also had been mentioned in NFL circles for other jobs, but his promotion likely will keep him with the Ravens for the next few years.

"I always thought, `Don't look for the next job; just work hard at what you do, and that next job will come,' " said Kokinis, 35, who was the top assistant under Harris the past three seasons. "When [Harris and Savage] were interviewing, I was just taking care of what my role was, which was to work on the free agents."

DeCosta, 31, had been an area scout with the Ravens since 1998. Although much of the work for this year's draft is already done, DeCosta will work closely with Savage the next two months to ease the transition.

"In this situation with Phil still part of the team, I think it is great because if I have questions, I can rely on him," DeCosta said. "Had Phil left, it probably would have presented some unique situations. Trying to organize a draft this late in the process without having seen a lot of the players out there would have created a tremendous amount of work for me.

"But the scenario now, Phil and I can basically carry us through the draft. Then in May, with me taking over on the first day, starting fresh, it will be a great opportunity."

The Ravens will fill Kokinis' old position in the coming weeks, with Western college supervisor Vince Newsome a possible successor.

Though the top positions are filled, there is a chance the Ravens could lose some of their scouts to Harris after a number of contracts expire May 31.

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