"Just like when Marvin Lewis went to Cincinnati and Cincinnati got better,
Cleveland is better today because of Phil Savage," said Newsome, who was denied
permission to interview with Cleveland. "That makes my job tougher. They will
now have someone who really knows what type of players it takes to play in this
"Phil was a very tireless worker. He was very thorough in everything that he did. He knew the right questions to ask me to make sure that we were making the right decisions."
Savage, 39, recommended two perennial All-Pro selections for the Ravens' first two draft picks in 1996: offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis. Of the Ravens' 22 starters last season, 20 were drafted by Baltimore or signed as undrafted free agents.
Savage has turned down other personnel openings, including positions with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles. Now, the timing was right.
"We knew we kind of had the luxury of having two GM's here the last two years," majority owner Steve Bisciotti said. "You can't pay Phil not to grow. As long as Ozzie's here and has the last say in the draft room, then Phil's not a GM."
Newsome indicated that the Ravens were unlikely to fill Savage's position, that director of pro personnel George Kokinis and director of college scouting Eric DeCosta would report directly to him.
The personnel department isn't expected to lose many, if any, scouts before the draft to Cleveland because most remain under contract for a year, although Savage could offer promotions.
Although Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is likely to be a candidate for the Browns' head-coaching vacancy, he wasn't immediately contacted while Savage's agent, Neil Cornrich, finalized details with Cleveland owner Randy Lerner and team president John Collins. Former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel, a consultant last season, is another possibility for Cleveland. Plus, both may be considered for the San Francisco 49ers' opening.
If Nolan leaves, he would likely be replaced by defensive line coach Rex Ryan.
Bisciotti noted that under normal business principles he would have been able to retain Savage.
"Based on a traditional business model, it's very strange," Bisciotti said. "You can't hold Phil back. Opening the checkbook doesn't do it."
A former Browns defensive assistant and scout under Bill Belichick, Savage faces a major rebuilding project. The Browns have gone 9-23 over the last two seasons and have struggled in the first round of the draft with busts like quarterback Tim Couch and defensive tackle Gerard Warren.
Eight of the Ravens' 11 first-round picks have gone to the Pro Bowl.
"I'm not going to be able to replace Phil's work ethic," Newsome said. "He was so tireless as he prepared himself for the draft. I'm not going to be able to replace that, but we do have the people around myself that have been trained the same way he has been trained."
As well as a being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
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