Browns talk to ex-Jaguars executive Harris about GM job

CLEVELAND -- The Browns interviewed James "Shack" Harris, the Jacksonville Jaguars' former vice president of player personnel, on Thursday for their general-manager opening.

Harris, who met with Browns owner Randy Lerner and team officials in the New York area, is the fourth candidate to interview for the GM spot, which came open after Phil Savage was fired last month.

George Kokinis, the Baltimore Ravens' director of player personnel, remains the front-runner to join the Browns. He's a longtime friend of new Cleveland coach Eric Mangini, who recommended Kokinis to Lerner during his interview.

Kokinis is expected to meet with the Browns next week. The Ravens will play at Pittsburgh in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

During his search, Lerner also met with former New England Patriots vice president Scott Pioli, who landed the Kansas City Chiefs' GM job this week, and Browns director of player personnel T.J. McCreight.

Harris, the first black quarterback in NFL history to start a season opener, left his position with the Jaguars before their season finale at Baltimore. Jacksonville finished a disappointing 5-11, and while not all the team's offseason moves were Harris' decisions, he took the fall for their failures.

Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew was on the NFL Network set in Los Angeles on Thursday and went over some of the keys for the AFC Championship Game between the Ravens and Steelers. More ...

Two moves might have sealed Harris' fate in Jacksonville. He signed free-agent wide receiver Jerry Porter and cornerback Drayton Florence to contracts that included $23 million in guaranteed money.

Porter missed all of training camp and the preseason following surgery to repair a torn hamstring. He started six games and finished the season on injured reserve and with just 11 catches for 181 yards. Florence struggled in zone coverage and was relegated mostly to playing in nickel and dime situations.

Harris also had a run of questionable first-round draft picks, and although he never had the GM title, he was blamed for personnel decisions, even though coach Jack Del Rio played a role in every roster move.

Harris could be a backup plan in case the Browns are spurned by Kokinis. Harris was the Ravens' pro personnel director for six seasons and helped Baltimore win the 2001 Super Bowl.

The Browns don't have any further interviews planned at this time.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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