CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Browns interviewed James Harris, Jacksonville's former vice president of player personnel, yesterday for their general manager opening.
"Shack" Harris met with Browns owner Randy Lerner and team officials in the New York area. He is the fourth candidate to interview for the GM spot, left open when Phil Savage was fired last month.
George Kokinis, Baltimore's director of player personnel, remains the front-runner to join the Browns. He's a longtime friend of Cleveland coach Eric Mangini, who recommended him 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.
During his search, Lerner also met with former New England vice president Scott Pioli, who landed the Kansas City 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 club's offseason moves were Harris' decisions, he took the fall for their failures.
Two moves may have sealed his fate. 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, 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 they are spurned by Kokinis.
Harris was the Ravens' pro personnel director for six seasons and helped Baltimore win the 2001 Super Bowl.