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Browns General Manager Phil Savage Becomes Franchise Savior

Browns General Manager Phil Savage

     Its April 15th, 2008, just less than two weeks before the NFL draft. At this time of the year, Owners, General Managers and Coaches of untalented teams in the NFL are looking for the next superstar they can draft to help bring their team back to respectability. In the past, this was the situation that the Cleveland Browns organization was in. A struggling team looking for that superstar player that would help them win more games than they lost, which was a bigger problem for them than you would think. From 1999-2006 the Browns had only had one winning season, and zero playoff wins. Year after year they were the laughing stock of the NFL, and the only time Browns fans were ever given hope was in the NFL draft. This year its different because the Browns do not have a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd round draft choice, and for the first time in a very long time, thats nothing to be concerned about. This is because of Browns General Manager Phil Savage, who has helped bring the Browns from the cellar of their divison, to bonafied contenders.

     When Phil Savage, the Baltimore Ravens former General Manager, was hired by the Browns in 2005 they were a franchise who seemed to draft the wrong player year in and year out. In 1999 the Browns had the number one overall draft choice and used it to select quarterback Tim Couch who went on to have one of the most memerable careers in Browns history, but not for a good reason. To give you and idea of how Couch’s career went with the Browns, The NFL Network listed Couch in their top 10 draft busts of all time. In 2000 the Browns again had the number one overall draft choice and this time selected Courtney Brown, a defensive end from Penn State. Ever heard of him? Dont worry, your not the only one. The next three years did not get any better, as the Browns selected Gerard Warren with the third overall pick in 2001, William Green with 16th overall choice in 2002, and Jeff Faine with the 21st overall choice in 2003. None of these players play for the Browns any longer. Warren is a journeyman backup defensive lineman, William Green is no longer in the NFL, and Jeff Faine is the center for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his third NFL team.

     When Phil Savage was hired by the Browns in 2005, his job was to make sure these sort of horrible draft mistakes did not happen again. So far, he has lived up to the expectations. In just three seasons as the Browns General Manager Phil Savage has drafted 4 players in the first round. Two of them, wide reciever Braylon Edwards and offensive tackle Joe Thomas, have already been selected to the Pro Bowl. Kamerion Wimbley, the Browns team leader in sacks for the past two seasons, and backup quarterback Brady Quinn are the other two selections Phil Savage has made in the first round. Perhaps the best draft decision Phil Savage has made was not really a draft choice at all. Joshua Cribbs, a wide reciever and kick returner, was not selected by any team when he entered the Draft in 2005. Phil Savage signed him as an undrafted Free Agent, and in just three NFL seasons Cribbs has become the Browns greatest kick returner of all time.

To see how important Phil Savage has been to the Cleveland Browns all you need to do is look at the players the Browns have sent to the Pro Bowl. From 1999-2004, the Browns only sent one player to the Pro Bowl. In the Phil Savage era, 2005-2008, the Browns have already sent six players to the Pro Bowl, and one alternate. Savage has not only been a genius in drafting players, but also in signing players in Free Agency. Phil Savage was not afraid to offer running back Jamal Lewis a contract when every other team in the NFL said he was over the hill and injury prone. Savage turned out to be correct yet again, as Lewis went on to have the best season a Cleveland Browns running back has had since Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown retired. Savage also signed quarterback Derek Anderson, a fromer 6th round pick, when the Ravens put him on waivers in the 2005 season. Derek Anderson is now a starting pro bowl quarterback for the Browns. Savage’s decision to sign Anderson is a huge reason why the Browns are able to sit back, relax, and watch the first three round of the NFL draft, while the Ravens, Phil Savage and Derek Anderson’s former team, are still searching for the next superstar that can help bring them back to respectability.

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