Savage met with Miami owner Wayne Huizenga, team president Eddie Jones and chief operating officer Bryan Wiedmeier. "He was just very technically-sound," said Jones, who has also interviewed former Saints general manager Randy Mueller and Tampa Bay interim general manager Tim Ruskell. "It's clear he understands the process in getting the college and pro players assessed and picked. He's done a nice job."
Savage, 38, has been instrumental in Pro Bowl draft picks that include: linebacker Ray Lewis, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, running back Jamal Lewis, the NFL Offensive Player of the Year after a 2,066-yard season, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, tight end Todd Heap, safety Ed Reed, cornerback Chris McAlister, and outside linebackers Peter Boulware and Adalius Thomas.
All of those players except for Thomas, a sixth-round choice, were first-round picks "You know Phil is definitely qualified," said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, comparing the situation to last winter when former Ravens director of pro personnel James Harris became the Jacksonville Jaguars' vice president of player personnel after talks between owner Wayne Weaver and Savage hit an impasse. "We've had a great working relationship. The success we've had as an organization and our ability to acquire talent has been a direct product of Phil."
Miami stripped personnel power from head coach Dave Wannstedt after failing to make the playoffs. The personnel job will likely include the ability to hire and fire the coach. Retired former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf, a 65-year-old Annapolis resident, is acting as a consultant for Miami. Wolf insists that he's too old to be considered.
Tuesday, the Dolphins also met with Rick Spielman, the team's senior vice president of football operations. Giants director of player personnel Jerry Reese, who is black, is scheduled to interview Friday. Another minority candidate, Houston Texans assistant director of pro scouting Bobby Grier, declined an invitation.
The Dolphins have been trying unsuccessfully to schedule a meeting with Buffalo Bills assistant general manager Tom Modrak, Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said. Henderson coached two Pro Bowl players in Reed and McAlister, helping the AFC North champions improve to fourth against the pass. "It's flattering to think that someone else out there believes I'm ready to do that job," Henderson said. "We'll talk philosophy, figure out what they want and see how we mesh. It's really intriguing."
New York finished 21st in total defense, leading to Ted Cottrell's firing. For Baltimore (10-6), Reed intercepted seven passes and returned two blocked punts for touchdowns. Baxter and McAlister intercepted three passes apiece. "It's not a passive defense," Henderson said. "Our style of play was aggressive, and I think people like that." Giants defensive coordinator Johnnie Lynn has already interviewed at the Jets' Weeb Ewbank Hall along with former Buffalo Bills head coach Gregg Williams. Tampa Bay defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, Titans linebackers coach Gunther Cunningham and Eagles linebackers coach Ron Rivera have also been linked to the Jets.
Newsome said he doesn't anticipate anyone else from the personnel department interviewing for jobs since the only position they can interview for is a general manager opening. "For Donnie, it's just like Mike Nolan interviewing in Chicago, it's good for these guys to go through the experience even if they don't wind up getting the job," Newsome said. "It prepares them for future opportunities."
NOTES: Cornerback Gary Baxter played through the pain of an aggravated abdominal hernia in the Ravens' 20-17 playoff loss to the Titans. Trainer Bill Tessendorf said Baxter might require surgery to alleviate a hernia incurred during his childhood. Baxter was initially scheduled to meet with a doctor Monday, but was out of town attending his grandfather's funeral. Baxter will likely need finger surgery along with defensive back Tom Knight along with fullback Ovie Mughelli (shoulder). Newsome said Boulware is likely to have arthroscopic knee surgery before the Super Bowl.
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.