Harris joins Jaguars

OWINGS MILLS - The sudden breakdown in negotiations with Phil Savage last weekend didn't prevent the Jacksonville Jaguars from hiring another Baltimore Ravens executive. While Jacksonville owner Wayne Weaver was unable to hire Savage, the Ravens' director of college scouting, he was able to reach an agreement Thursday with Ravens director of pro personnel James Harris.

Harris, 55, becomes the Jaguars' vice president of personnel, a newly-created title in the wake of former Ravens linebackers coach Jack Del Rio assuming the role of head coach previously occupied by Tom Coughlin.

Credited for being instrumental in key acquisitions of core veterans that comprised the Super Bowl roster such as Shannon Sharpe, Michael McCrary, Rod Woodson, Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa, Harris worked for the Ravens since 1997 and will be formally announced at a news conference on Tuesday. The former NFL and Grambling quarterback was also noted for recommending quarterback Jeff Blake.

"The Jacksonville Jaguars have hired a hard-working, knowledgeable, talented man," Ravens owner Art Modell said. "James is respected around the league. I think he's going to do very well in Jacksonville and will bring a high level of credibility to their personnel department, as he did for the Baltimore Ravens."

The Jaguars beat the Seattle Seahawks to the punch as Seattle's Bob Whitsitt had scheduled an interview with Harris for this week.

It remains unclear whether Savage, 37, will interview in Seattle. He was scouting college players at the Gridiron Classic this week in Orlando, Fla.

Weaver's offer to Savage, who would have brought at least four scouts with him to Jacksonville, was significantly below market value reportedly in the $500,000 range.

 The Ravens made no immediate announcement regarding Harris' successor, but it's widely believed that assistant director of pro personnel George Kokinis will be elevated on or before Feb. 1. Kokinis has a background as an area college scout and does extensive scouting reports on other franchises to help familiarize the Ravens' coaching staff with opponents' tendencies and talent level.

Meanwhile, Harris will be working under a four-pronged flow chart of organizational control with Del Rio and senior vice president of football operations Paul Vance. Weaver is the final arbiter if a tie can't be broken.

Harris had been the New York Jets' assistant general manager for four years before coming to Baltimore after scouting for six seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 Harris played quarterback in the NFL for 12 seasons, including stints with the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers. He passed for 8,136 yard and 45 touchdowns and was the Most Valuable Player in the 1975 Pro Bowl.

"Personally, I will miss his friendship. I will miss my confidante," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "He is a very good personnel man with a great, down-home sense of humor. He has been a voice of reason in all our personnel decisions for the last six years. We wish him the best, and I'm glad he's not in our division."


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