Jags find their front-office man

According to a report on Espn.com, the Jacksonville Jaguars have reached an agreement with Baltimore Ravens pro personnel director James Harris to be their No.1 football man in the front office.

If the Jacksonville Jaguars enjoy any type of success next season, they can thank the Baltimore Ravens.

James Harris, a longtime talent evaluator and 12-year NFL quarterback, became the latest member of the Ravens' organization to head south and join the Jaguars.

Jacksonville named Harris, who had been the Ravens' pro personnel director since 1997, as their new vice president of player personnel Thursday. Harris is reunited with new coach Jack Del Rio, who spent four seasons as linebackers coach of the Ravens, including the 2000 season when Baltimore won the Super Bowl.

Mike Smith, the linebackers coach of the Ravens last season, was named defensive coordinator of the Jaguars Tuesday.

"He was very thorough about the job. He went down there thinking he could be a good fit because of Jack and Mike," Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' senior vice president of football operations told jaguars.com.

"He's had to study Jacksonville for the last six years. He knows that football team."

One of the NFL's first black quarterbacks, Harris played 12 seasons in the league with Buffalo, the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego, passing for 8,136 yards and 45 touchdowns.

He's the second black person in the league to be elevated to a high-ranking executive's position this year, along with Rod Graves of the Arizona Cardinals. In November, the Ravens made Newsome the NFL's first black general manager.

The addition of Harris comes on the heels of a botched deal with Baltimore college scouting director Phil Savage, who had been the first choice of Jags owner Wayne Weaver. But Savage removed himself from consideration last Saturday, when he could not reach a contract agreement.

Weaver and team vice president Paul Vance also interviewed Buffalo Bills assistant general manager Tom Modrak and Rick Reiprish, who had been their own personnel director. The Jaguars subsequently fired Reiprish.

In Jacksonville, Harris becomes the team's top personnel man, and will be the lead figure in draft-day decisions. Former coach Tom Coughlin, who was fired after December 30 after a 6-10 season, had a major say in personnel matters.

As reported earlier, Harris was not Jacksonville's first choice. The Jaguars were in negotiations with Savage, also of the Ravens, but talks broke down last weekend, mainly because the team wasn't willing to pay Savage the $800,000-$900,000 salary common around the league for a job of that stature.

The Jaguars did not disclose Harris' salary.

Harris was set to interview for the Seattle Seahawks general manager job Friday. He had also interviewed for the Chicago general manager job two years ago. Harris was the New York Jets assistant general manager for four years (1993-96) after scouting for six seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-92).

On the field, Harris played for the Buffalo Bills (1969-71), Los Angeles Rams (1972-76) and the San Diego Chargers (1977-81). He passed for 8,136 yards and 45 touchdowns and was named as the most valuable player in the 1975 Pro Bowl game.

Harris becomes the final piece in in Weaver's new three-pronged operating structure: salary cap, personnel and coaching.

"He's a great personnel man," Newsome said.

"He's well-versed in every aspect of personnel. He's been involved in everything. He would look at the top (college) players and he would have to give them an evaluation and a grade. He was involved with us on the (day-before-the-draft) strategy session about who we would take and why."

Harris rose to prominence in Baltimore on the strength of acquisitions such as Michael McCrary, Shannon Sharpe, Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, Trent Dilfer and Rod Woodson.

Jags Illustrated Top Stories