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News » Phil Savage, in general, managed his job poorly

Phil Savage, in general, managed his job poorly

Phil Savage, in general, managed his job poorly

Pittsburgh - Phil Savage's inability to manage the Browns effectively and to portray the team in a positive light, as well as costly personnel mistakes all contributed to his firing, sources close to the organization said Sunday night.

Savage had some highlights during his four-year career here, but the lowlights outweighed them, the sources said. The Browns had hoped that Savage's ability to acquire talent would override some of his weaknesses, but that did not happen.

In the end, the Browns felt that even his acquisition skills weren't what they had hoped.

Among Savage's highlights:

Drafting left tackle Joe Thomas in 2007 and then trading up for Brady Quinn that year, which left the organization feeling it had found the two cornerstones of the franchise.

The naming of six players to the Pro Bowl after the 2007 season, snapping a six-year drought. However, two of those players, Kellen Winslow and Ryan Pontbriand, were from the Butch Davis era.

Signing special-teams ace Josh Cribbs as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State.

Claiming Derek Anderson off waivers via the rival Baltimore Ravens in 2005.

The team finishing 10-6 in 2007.

But the lowlights were far more plentiful, according to sources. Among them:

Savage drafted only two starters on Day 2 of the draft over his four years.

He never drafted a Pro Bowl defensive player.

He overspent on free agents such as Dont? Stallworth and Kevin Shaffer.

He bungled controversies including the Kellen Winslow staph infection saga this season and sent the infamous e-mail to a fan.

He traded down a notch with the Ravens in 2006 and allowed them to select nose tackle Haloti Ngata, whom Bill Belichick said later was the best player in the draft.

One NFL source said the next general manager and head coach (Romeo Crennel is expected to be fired this morning) will not have an easy time of it because the roster is full of overpaid players, the salary cap is headed for danger due to huge signing bonuses, and the Browns have traded away a lot of draft picks - including those in the third, fifth and seventh rounds next season.

The new regime, then, will be forced to try to restock the team with more free agents, who don't come cheap. Some of the players Savage traded picks to acquire this year are not held in especially high regard by the current coaching staff, including Beau Bell, Martin Rucker and Paul Hubbard. It remains to be seen how the new staff takes to them.

Many of Savage's second-day picks are out of Football, including defensive players such as fourth-rounder Antonio Perkins, fifth-rounder David McMillan and sixth-rounder Nick Speegle.

The jury also is out on 2005 first-rounder Braylon Edwards, 2006 first-rounder Kamerion Wimbley and Quinn, who for all intents and purposes is considered the 2008 first-rounder. Edwards had a 16-touchdown Pro Bowl season last year, but regressed this year and will be trying to rebound. Wimbley had a sensational 11-sack rookie year, but had five last year and just four this year. No one knows for sure what Quinn is capable of because of his lack of playing time.

In an effort to make up for the drafting mistakes of Davis and his right-hand man, Pete Garcia, Savage overspent on free agents such as Gary Baxter (six years, $30 million, $10 million guaranteed), LeCharles Bentley (six years, $36 million, $12.5 million guaranteed), Shaffer (six years, $36 million) and Stallworth (seven years, $35 million, $10 million guaranteed).

Savage also traded away this year's second-round pick for Corey Williams and the third-rounder for Shaun Rogers (as well as Leigh Bodden to Detroit). But instead of getting second- and third-round salaries, they're paid more like first-rounders.

Williams received a six-year, $38 million deal - with about $16 million to $18 million guaranteed. Rogers received a restructured deal that totals six years for $42 million, including $23 million guaranteed over the first three years. Anderson also received a new three-year deal last season with up to $14 million guaranteed.

Browns owner Randy Lerner opened up his checkbook to try to produce a winner, but the next staff will pay for it, both literally and figuratively. What's more, the contracts of many players are up after 2009, including Edwards'.

Savage's staff privately argued that Crennel didn't play their second-day players such as Jerome Harrison, Bell, Rucker and Alex Hall. It remains to be seen how effective they'll be going forward.

Over the past two months, the Browns have heard one story after another from inside the organization and out that made them realize it was time to cut their losses.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: mcabot@plaind.com, 216-999-4670

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 30, 2008

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Alvin Smith Name: Alvin Smith
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