Harris joins Del Rio

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, left, points to Jaguars fans in the balcony of the lobby of Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., during a news conference to introduce new Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, right.

AP Photo/Oscar Sosa
Published: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 23, 2003 at 11:25 p.m.

Blocking a potential interview with a competing team, the Jacksonville Jaguars moved swiftly in signing James Harris as their vice president of player personnel Thursday.

Harris, the Ravens' pro personnel director since 1997, was to interview for the Seattle Seahawks' general manager position today but instead flew to Jacksonville on Wednesday night and agreed to a contract Thursday morning.

The hiring comes two weeks after the Jaguars initiated their search - one in which Ravens director of college scouting Phil Savage, Buffalo Bills assistant general manager Tom Modrak, former Jacksonville personnel director Rick Reiprish and Harris interviewed for the job.

Savage was the team's first choice, but he and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver could not agree on a contract late last week.

Harris, meanwhile, brings 16 years of front office experience; the last six of which came with the Ravens, where he was instrumental in the free-agent signings of Shannon Sharpe, Jeff Blake, Trent Dilfer and Sam Adams. Harris will reunite with Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, who was linebackers coach for three seasons with the Ravens.

''It was just the opportunity,'' said Harris, who was an NFL quarterback for 12 years. ''Working with Jack, I felt we have a good working relationship. That puts you in a position where you have a chance to win. I'm fortunate to get this opportunity.''

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

Harris expressed little concern over not being the Jaguars' first choice or how Jacksonville will delegate authority. Harris will not be the final decision-maker, as the team plans to use a four-pronged system in which Weaver, Harris, Del Rio, and senior vice president Paul Vance have close to equal says.

Harris, 55, is also likely to make between $300,000 and $500,000 annually, which is considerably less than Del Rio's $1.3 million-a-year salary. That was one of the primary reasons Savage passed on the job.

''It wasn't a good situation for Phil. He had to make his decision,'' Harris said. ''I feel it's workable based on the people involved. The owner has the right to make a decision. You've just got to have confidence in people.''

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