Following discussions that had been ongoing for the better part of a week, Phil Savage and the Cleveland Browns have come to a mutual agreement over the last 24 hours to sever their ties, sources close to both the Browns and the now former general manager said.
Neither side would label this development as a firing or a resignation, nor would they discuss the financial ramifications of the move.
As The Orange & Brown Report has stated for the better part of two months, owner Randy Lerner, at some point, would seek to strip Savage of powers written into his contract -- control of 53-man roster and the salary cap, to name two -- and allow the GM to stay on board as long as he accepted the reduction in power.
Savage refused to relinquish any of those powers stipulated in his contract -- powers that were strengthened in the recent extension, sources said -- which ultimately lead to the end of the Savage/Romeo Crennel regime in Cleveland, an end that will be complete once Crennel meets with the owner tomorrow morning.
Heading into the 2008 season, the all-consuming powers Savage possessed were not a concern for ownership. However, following the Kellen Winslow and e-mail fiascos involving Savage -- and coupled with the GM publicly throwing his head coach under the proverbial bus on two different occasions -- the owner reassessed the power of the organization being in the hands of a person who brought embarrassment to the franchise off the field even as he has improved the talent on it.
The Browns' next move will be to reach out to former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, sources reiterated.
If their overtures are rebuffed on the Cowher front, they will then concentrate on filling the vacant GM post before focusing on a new head coach. Scott Pioli, vice president of player personnel for the New England Patriots, is Lerner's top target should he not be able to land Cowher.