Phil Savage

AFC Rumors: Gordon, Jets, Steelers, Colts

Tuesday marked a significant day for the Jets, with their new front office power players forming. A day later, more clarity has emerged on how Joe Douglas‘ first staff will look. While the respective roles for Rex Hogan (assistant GM) and Chad Alexander (director of player personnel) became known Tuesday, the Jets announced Phil Savage‘s a day later. The former Browns GM and Ravens player personnel director will serve as a senior football advisor. Savage has not worked on an NFL staff since the 2012 season.

Additionally, the Jets filled some front office positions by promoting holdovers brought in by previous regimes. Eleventh-year Jets staffer Greg Nemjeh will become the team’s new director of pro personnel, and 13th-year Jets staffer Dan Zbojovsky the team’s new director of personnel operations. Kevin Murphy, a Jets pro scout the past two years, will rise to the position of pro scouting director. The team also added Chris Nolan as a college scout. Nolan was an Eagles staffer during Douglas’ Philadelphia stay. Nolan will serve as an area scout, per veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (on Twitter).

Here is what’s going on outside the Big Apple in the AFC Wednesday:

  • A video featuring Tom Brady throwing passes to suspended Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon surfaced Wednesday (Instagram link via Brady), but there is still no telling when or if this duo will be able to do this in a more organized setting again. An NFL spokesman informed The Athletic’s Jeff Howe there has been no movement on Gordon’s status, nor does a timeline exist for a final answer here (Twitter link). Multiple violations of the substance abuse policy have the long-embattled wideout suspended. Gordon, 28, signed his RFA tender — worth $2.025MM — so he would stand to be a Patriot if reinstated.
  • With Justin Houston joining the Colts, Tyquan Lewis looks like he will be changing positions. The Colts have used Lewis at defensive tackle this offseason, Tyler Kraft of the Indianapolis Star notes. The 2018 second-round pick played defensive end as a rookie and at Ohio State. Lewis, who spent much of his rookie season on IR, is at bit small for an inside defender. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 269 pounds, a similar build to 2018 free agent addition Denico Autry (6-5, 270). The recently re-signed Margus Hunt, however, brings more size at nearly 300 pounds. Houston and Jabaal Sheard stand to reside as the team’s top defensive ends. The Colts also drafted defensive end Kemoko Turay in the 2018 second round.
  • Two years after Alejandro Villanueva‘s situation, the Steelers have another ERFA who has been a regular contributor. Slot cornerback Mike Hilton has been vocal about wanting a long-term deal. He does not have much leverage, but his situation is different from Villanueva’s. The left tackle was late entering the NFL and was 29 when he lobbied for a new contract — what turned out to be a three-year, $24MM deal. Hilton is 25 and could bet on himself by playing for $645K. While he is voicing displeasure now, it doesn’t sound like the former UDFA is too upset with the Steelers. “I want to show the team I want to be here and want to be a part of this organization,” Hilton said, via’s Jeremy Fowler. “… As players, you feel like of course you want to earn more. Hopefully things work out in the long run, but if not, I’ll do my best to go out there and help this team win.”

Jets To Hire Phil Savage

Former Browns GM and Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage is expected to join the personnel staff of new Jets GM Joe Douglas, sources tell Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter). His exact role is not yet known, but barring a snag, an announcement should come this week.

Savage interviewed for a front office position recently. This will be his first NFL role since the 2012 season, when he enjoyed a brief stay on Howie Roseman‘s Eagles staff. His most recent post came with the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. Before the league’s collapse, the Arizona Hotshots hired Savage as their GM.

Prior to Savage’s tenures in Cleveland and Philadelphia, Douglas and Savage worked together in Baltimore. When Douglas broke into the scouting world, Savage served as both the Ravens’ college scouting director and their director of player personnel. Douglas began working with the Ravens during their 2000 Super Bowl season, and his time with the franchise overlapped with Savage’s by five years. The Browns hired Savage in 2005.

His time in Cleveland did produce the franchise’s most recent winning season — a 10-6 mark in 2007 — but it ended after four seasons. The team’s decision to trade up to select Brady Quinn in ’07 did not end up working out, and despite signing an extension in 2008, Savage was fired at the conclusion of that season.

This will mark the first of a few hires in the Douglas front office. Todd McShay pulled his name out of contention for a position, but Bears executive Champ Kelly — who interviewed for the GM job that went to Douglas — is believed to be in the mix for a Jets post under Douglas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets To Interview Todd McShay, Phil Savage

The Jets are set to speak with ESPN analyst Todd McShay and former Browns GM Phil Savage this week about roles in the front office, according to’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). Both men have ties to new GM Joe Douglas and could be fits for the revamped evaluations department. 

Savage has served as both a coach and an executive during his long football career. After a decade with the Ravens, he moved on to the Browns and ascended to the role of GM. In the 2007 draft, he selected team pillar Joe Thomas No. 3 overall, but also traded up to select Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn, who turned into yet another quarterback flop for Cleveland. He was fired in 2008, and eventually moved on to the Eagles. While he didn’t overlap with Douglas in Philly, the two men worked together while in Baltimore.

McShay and Douglas, meanwhile, were college teammates. McShay was the scout team quarterback at the University of Richmond where Douglas was an offensive lineman. Given McShay’s high profile (and presumably large salary) at ESPN, it’ll probably take a major title to lure the draft analyst away from TV.

Interestingly, McShay is not the first media member to be connected to a Jets front office position. Earlier this offseason, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah was reportedly being considered for a job, though he declined the opportunity. There was also talk of NFL Network’s Peter Schrager having some level of involvement in the Jets’ GM search, though he denied those reports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions, Notes On Joe Douglas Hiring

Yesterday, the Jets succeeded in hiring their top GM target, as the organization inked Joe Douglas to a six-year contract. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets that their new GM will earn $3MM per year. This is a significant increase over the team’s initial $1.5MM offer, but Douglas’ refusal to immediately accept the gig forced the Jets to up the ante.

The $3MM salary isn’t outrageous for a first-time general manager, as top executives usually take in around $4MM annually. On the flip side, it isn’t chump change, and the modest monetary investment implies that Jets ownership is willing to give their new GM a relatively long leash.

Let’s check out some more notes out of New York…

  • We heard yesterday that Douglas had turned down multiple Jets overtures, but the organization continued to be aggressive. According to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, the negotiations took several days, and there was some pessimism that Douglas would end up returning to the Eagles. Ultimately, the Jets were apparently willing to meet their new GM’s monetary demands.
  • However, it sounds like money wasn’t the only factor that gave Douglas some pause. Mehta reports that the executive also had some concerns about Jets ownership and “control/reporting elements of the job.” Ultimately, Douglas was enticed by the presence of Sam Darnold, an up-and-coming roster, and enough money to add talented front-office executives. Mehta notes that the signing also “completed a hat trick” for agent Jimmy Sexton. The agent represents Douglas, Darnold, and head coach Adam Gase.
  • Speaking of front office candidates, Jason La Canfora points to former Browns general manager Phil Savage and Ravens exec Chad Alexander as executives who could join Douglas’s staff.’s Gil Brandt tweets that Douglas wanted NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah to join him in New York, but that won’t end up happening.
  • ESPN’s Rich Cimini believes this is “a very good hire” by the team, but the writer also questions whether the executive is “ready for the Jets.” Cimini points to the organization’s lack of stability, inexperienced ownerships (with CEO Christopher Johnson is charge), and “backroom politics.” However, the most important factor will be the relationship between Douglas and Gase; if the GM and head coach clash, Cimini believes the Jets will have “no chance” at succeeding.

Latest On Jets’ GM Search

The Jets are set to interview Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas this weekend for their general manager opening. Jason La Canfora of tweets that the “scouting community” assumes that Douglas will ultimately be hired for the gig.

If this ends up being the case, La Canfora notes that it will have an impact on some of the organization’s other front office hirings. For instance, the reporter says NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah would not be joining Douglas’ hypothetical staff. On the flip side, former Browns GM (and recent AAF GM) Phil Savage could be a possibility for a role.

Douglas has been considered a frontrunner for the position for some time. The executive spent the past three seasons as the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, and he played a major role in constructing the Super Bowl LII-winning roster. He was reportedly in consideration for the Texans’ GM position in 2018, but the Eagles denied Houston’s interview request.

The Jets have been connected to a number of additional GM candidates, including Scott Fitterer (Seahawks co-director of player personnel), Terry Fontenot (Saints director of pro scouting) and Champ Kelly (Bears assistant director of player personnel). We learned yesterday that Vikings assistant general manager George Paton turned down the Jets’ request for an interview.

Following former GM Mike Maccagnan‘s firing, Jeremiah surprisingly emerged as an option for “a prominent front-office position.” However, the NFL Network analyst later said that he never talked with the organization. Considering his lack of front office experience, it’s unlikely the Jets considered for much more than a lead scouting role.

Savage has served as both a coach and an executive during his long football career. He had a front office stint with the Ravens that lasted almost a decade, and he eventually moved on to Cleveland as their GM. Savage made headlines during the 2007 draft, when he selected lineman Joe Thomas third-overall before trading up for quarterback Brady Quinn. Savage was fired in 2008, and he spent the following few years with the Eagles. In 2019, the 54-year-old served as the general manager for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football.

Extra Points: Hackenberg, Cardinals, Colts

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Raiders coach Jon Gruden has never been a fan of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, and he attribute quarterback Christian Hackenberg‘s recent release to the CBA’s limitations. “Everybody is an expert out there on Hackenberg and thinks he can’t play,” Gruden said (via Josh Alper of “It’s unfortunate, this whole collective [bargaining agreement]. How do you develop a quarterback? I don’t know how you do it. … It is hard enough to get Connor Cook enough reps, let alone a fourth guy. It really depresses me how we can’t spend more time with these young quarterbacks, and it is really going to be an impactful situation on the NFL in the future.” The former second-round pick was released by the Raiders after having been acquired from the Jets several weeks ago.
  • First-round quarterback Josh Rosen is undoubtedly impressing in Cardinals‘ camp, but Darren Urban of believes Sam Bradford will still be the team’s starter heading into the season. The veteran has the upper hand when it comes to accuracy and throwing power, and while the team is planning on bringing him along slowly (Bradford suffered another knee injury last season), he’s expected to be atop the depth chart at the start of the season.
  • The Colts are curiously attempting to switch linebacker John Simon to defensive end. As Zak Keefer of writes, this is an especially questionable move considering the team’s lack of depth at linebacker. So far, no one on the Colts sounds overly optimistic about the switch. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus didn’t give a glowing review of the 27-year-old, acknowledging that Simon lacks the size of a typical defensive end. “What you have to do is use your attributes, your strengths, use your get-off, all those things,” he explained. “He’ll figure it out as we go.”
  • Former Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage has been named the general manager of the Alliance of American Football league’s Phoenix franchise (via SBJ’s Liz Mullen on Twitter). The 53-year-old was also the Browns general manager between 2005 and 2008.