Browns don't deny trying to trade for Jim Harbaugh

The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- Responding to a report published earlier Friday, the San Francisco 49ers denied a deal was in place to trade head coach Jim Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns last month, but earlier comments made by owner Jed York might contradict that position.

The Browns issued a statement that didn't deny the report Friday that a deal was in place to send Harbaugh to Cleveland for multiple draft picks, but Harbaugh opted not to leave San Francisco.

"The team conducted an extensive coaching search, and explored several options," the Browns said in the statement. "That search produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine and we're excited about his future with the club."

York said via Twitter at 6:15 p.m. ET Friday "Is this on the record? Report isn't true."

The Browns hired Pettine as head coach but fired team president Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi last week, promoting Ray Farmer to general manager. Pettine is scheduled to meet the media Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The 49ers vehemently denied the report to, calling it "completely false" and "ridiculous."

Jon Gruden was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million in 2002. Herman Edwards and Bill Parcells were also traded as head coaches.

On Jan. 21, 49ers owner Jed York said the Browns had been in contact with the 49ers about "our coaches" but wouldn't identify them by name. At the time, it was expected Cleveland reached out to talk to offensive coordinator Greg Roman or defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. ESPN reported defensive line coach Jim Tomsula was the target in January.

The Browns discussed hiring Parcells as the head of football operations.

Harbaugh and Lombardi are good friends with a family connection. Harbaugh hired Mick Lombardi in 2013 with the title of assistant to head coach. His responsibilities include player evaluation, breaking down film for the offense, assisting all offensive coaches, running the scout team, and charting plays for the coaching staff.

Harbaugh just completed the third year of his five-year, $25 million contract and earns $5 million per season but contract talks after the 2012 season went nowhere fast.

York said in December that the 49ers planned to reconvene to discuss a new deal with Harbaugh, who has taken the 49ers to the NFC Championship game each of his first three seasons with a 36-11-1 regular-season record.

"I fully expect to sit down at the end of the season and see where we go from here," York said.

In the NFC West alone, two coaches -- Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams and Super Bowl-winning coach Pete Carroll in Seattle -- make $7 million per season. John Harbaugh, who guided the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl and beat the 49ers last season, also earns $7 million per season.

In January, Jim Harbaugh danced around the contract matter.

"Well, until something further changes, which would have to be a principle in my mind that would completely change the way I think, I don't ever talk about contracts publicly," Harbaugh said. "If that principle changes, I will let you know."

Harbaugh, 50, was born in Toledo, Ohio.
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