Kokinis' departure to trigger promotions

OWINGS MILLS -- Now that director of pro personnel George Kokinis has been introduced as the Cleveland Browns' new general manager, the Baltimore Ravens are expected to issue scouting department promotions to Eric DeCosta, Vince Newsome and Joe Hortiz at some point.

DeCosta would likely be promoted from director of college scouting to director of player personnel, just as the Ravens did with former executive Phil Savage, whom Kokinis replaces in Cleveland, six years ago.

Currently the assistant director of pro personnel, Newsome, who is not related to general manager Ozzie Newsome, would move up to director of pro personnel in Kokinis' place.

And Hortiz would move up the ladder from national scout to director of college scouting.

Kokinis' departure after six years running the pro personnel department creates a void as he was Ozzie Newsome's chief lieutenant.

"I can say from the coaching side that our coaches and myself have great respect for George," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "Ozzie obviously is the decision-maker. Ozzie puts the whole thing together, and we know what a great job he does. George was probably the driving force behind all those moves.

"George is the guy that does all that leg work and all that evaluation work. He's in the division, so now he becomes our rival. He's a brother, but he's a rival. We'll be looking forward to competing against him."

Meanwhile, former Ravens pro personnel director and Jacksonville Jaguars vice president James "Shack" Harris has been rumored to be in line to potentially join Kokinis with the Browns.

"George is one of the most dedicated and loyal associates I've had the privilege of working with in my career," Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "His work ethic is the best anyone can have. He is very well prepared for this opportunity and he deserves it. Knowing how competitive George is, it will make the games against Browns very intense, but also enjoyable because of my respect for him."

HOMETOWN DISCOUNT?: It seems that owner Steve Bisciotti's public wish for a hometown discount from middle linebacker Ray Lewis is catching on.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs seconded Bisciotti's terminology in expressing hope that he would be retained by the Ravens as well as fellow linebackers and impending free agents Lewis and Bart Scott by not pushing the team to the limit financially during negotiations.

Suggs' comments are music to Harbaugh's ears.

"Hey, I'm on board," he said. "I know Steve Bisciotti is on board, too. We want all those guys back, and not just all the linebackers. We want all our free agents back. We think we have a special place to play."

Without naming names, Harbaugh referenced past free agents who have left Baltimore and seen their careers founder. It's a long list that includes Adalius Thomas, Gary Baxter, Duane Starks, Ed Hartwell and Tony Weaver.

"Plenty of guys have gone out and gone elsewhere and not fared as well in their career," Harbaugh said. "There's something about Baltimore, there's something about playing defense in Baltimore and offense and special teams as well, that helps players be as good as they can be. We would encourage those guys, as we're talking to them right now: 'We want you all back.'"

COACHING STAFF UPDATE: Harbaugh expressed optimism that the Raven' staff won't endure any more defections after defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and outside linebackers coach Mike Pettine went to the New York Jets as head coach and defensive coordinator, respectively.

Quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson interviewed Friday with the San Francisco 49ers for their offensive coordinator vacancy.

"There are some people who have had some inquiries," Harbaugh said. "We want to hold our staff together as much as we can, but, at the same time, we don't want to hold people back unfairly from opportunities. Right now, I'd say no [as far as losing more coaches]."

Harbaugh said that Ryan definitely won't be hiring any more coaches from the Baltimore staff. Ryan is adding former Ravens secondary coach Dennis Thurman, who was on Brian Billick's old staff.

"Rex has got all he's going to get," Harbaugh said. "Rex is finished with the Ravens as far as that goes."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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