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In Harbaugh pursuit, Browns followed a proven, logical blueprint

Vikings v Buccaneers Getty Images

The Browns were widely panned for their wide-ranging and long-lasting coaching search, but history suggests their boldest gamble — pursuing and putting together a draft-pick compensation package for the 49ers’ Jim Harbaugh — was a wise one.

After all, at least three Super Bowl-winning teams have surrendered high draft pick compensation to hire their head coaches.

In 1970, the Dolphins hired Don Shula away from Baltimore. Commissioner Pete Rozelle ruled Miami had tampered with Shula and forced the Dolphins to give up a 1971 first-round pick.

Shula led the Dolphins to an unbeaten season and victory in Super Bowl VII in his third campaign with Miami.

In 2000, the Patriots surrendered a first-round pick to hire Bill Belichick from the Jets.

The following season, Belichick led the Patriots to an upset of the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

In 2002, the Buccaneers sent two first-round picks and two second-round selections to Oakland for Jon Gruden.

In Gruden’s first season on the job, the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII.

Overall, Belichick (three), Shula (two) and Gruden (one) have combined to lead teams to one-eighth of the Super Bowl titles in NFL history.

While the Browns might not be a ready-made Super Bowl contender, they have a talented core. In short, they are exactly the sort of team that could take a sudden step forward with the right coach.

Perhaps Mike Pettine will be that leader for Cleveland. (Who knows — perhaps Rob Chudzinski could have been that guy.) Nevertheless, it’s understandable why the Browns would have interest in Harbaugh, who has led the 49ers to at least the conference-title round in all three of his seasons on the job. He has been a difference-maker for San Francisco.

The Browns have made more than their share of missteps in recent seasons. But their home run cut for Harbaugh was logical. A club’s head coach is its CEO, its tone-setter. The Browns’ pursuit, though failed, was just smart business. They identified and pursued an effective, strong and successful leader for their football operation.

The next step is closing the deal. But Cleveland was on the right track. It’s a start.

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25 Responses to “In Harbaugh pursuit, Browns followed a proven, logical blueprint”
  1. ✦ Pittsburgh is the City of Champions ✦ says: Feb 21, 2014 6:05 PM

    In the end, Cleveland always comes up short.

  2. arwiv says: Feb 21, 2014 6:07 PM

    It was a smart pursuit by the Browns, and just one more indication that Harbaugh will not be in SF for too much longer. Im guessing it takes one year of missing the playoffs and they’ll give him the boot.

  3. kwjsb says: Feb 21, 2014 6:13 PM

    I think now the Browns have a GM that talks about getting players to fit the coach and not players for their vision. The “Building for the Future” was code for tanking for picks. Farmer is the first GM/President to say “It’s my job to make the coach successful, where it seemed like Banner and Lombardi set Chud up to fail.

  4. metrocritical says: Feb 21, 2014 6:17 PM

    From the 49ers to the Browns? Maybe HCs had better start negotiating no trade clauses into their contracts.

  5. mrjackson206 says: Feb 21, 2014 6:20 PM

    Even if this ridiculous crock of crap was true I’m quite sure Bill Cowher would have got up off his a** to coach the Niners.

  6. russellwilsonismymvp says: Feb 21, 2014 6:27 PM

    Browns dodged a bullet! Harbs is a HORRIBLE talent evaluator. Niners have been tanking drafts since he got there.

    Great at coaching though. He gets the most out of his players.

  7. borisbulldog says: Feb 21, 2014 6:33 PM

    In the end, Cleveland always comes up short

    1-1 last year against the pissburgh stealers and 2-0 this year doesn’t look to short to me!

  8. citizenstrange says: Feb 21, 2014 6:34 PM

    Please, please please let the Browns trade for Honest Mike “Twelfth Man” Tomlin!

  9. sikoix says: Feb 21, 2014 6:34 PM

    All the news coming out today makes me wonder, again, if Pettine will actually survive til week 1. If Harbaugh becomes available to the Browns in the next couple weeks, it would be hard to fault them for a messy do-over.

  10. hottercold says: Feb 21, 2014 6:45 PM

    Browns called 49ers to inquire.Niners asked Harbaugh if he’s interested.He said no. Now Browns can say “hey we ALMOST trade for Harbaugh” What a non story. I’m sure in a month or so Trent & Jim will get a extension hammered out.Why dont we ask Mike Lombardi he will have the first hand full detail account of the story! Oh wait!

  11. elliottcovert says: Feb 21, 2014 6:54 PM

    I’m no Cowboys fan, but Jerry Jones would be wise to keep an eye on the Harbaugh situation and ready to break out the checkbook if necessary.

  12. thevikesarebest says: Feb 21, 2014 6:55 PM

    The cleveland browns=Losers forever.The vikings meanwhile will be achieveing greatness.SKOL

  13. bingobrown12 says: Feb 21, 2014 7:00 PM

    All I know is having two Harbaugh’s in the same
    division is a sign of the Apocalypse.

  14. sirsupersouthern says: Feb 21, 2014 7:14 PM

    “A club’s head coach is its CEO, its tone-setter.”
    ____________________________

    No, a club’s CEO is its CEO, unless the club in question is Cleveland, of course, who just fired their CEO without bothering to replace him.

    So yeah, I guess in this case Harbaugh would’ve been the de facto CEO as well as being the head coach. Man Cleveland sucks…

  15. timpiker says: Feb 21, 2014 7:35 PM

    Your team sucks SQUEALER FAN.

  16. sarcasm says: Feb 21, 2014 7:52 PM

    The Colts should have traded Jim Caldwell for a kicking tee when they owned his rights.

  17. fishguy1812 says: Feb 21, 2014 8:27 PM

    The Pack traded for the Walrus.

    The Vikings couldn’t get their draft pick in on time.

    One coach won a Super Bowl.

    The other coach got busted selling his Super Bowl tickets.

  18. watermelon1 says: Feb 21, 2014 9:02 PM

    Good news for the browns is it doesn’t appear any other team in their division really wants to dominate. They all make very questionable moves and really leave the division for the taking any given season

    If browns stop making their same mistakes… They could easily take advantage of the bengals being cheap, the ravens being overconfident in their front office and quarterback, and the steelers refusing to admit you can’t beat Father Time.

  19. ytownjoe says: Feb 21, 2014 9:53 PM

    A good coach is important for success in the NFL but it’s nice to have a QB who can play. Where would you use your draft picks?

  20. brownsclown says: Feb 21, 2014 10:19 PM

    Dumbturdi and Bummer told Haslam that if he pursued Harbaugh they would resign. Jimmy said ‘You’re Fired’ and hit the flusher!

  21. coop16 says: Feb 21, 2014 10:58 PM

    I can’t help but notice that the media guys have been saying for years and years and years that the Browns are on the right track, that they have a talented core, that they’re not that far away, and so on. Then they go out and lose 11 or more games every single year. So either the Browns have had the worst coaches in the world, or the media guys are seeing a mirage. Or maybe both of those things are true. Either way, it’s getting tiresome … tiresome to see the Browns constantly lose three-fourths of their games, and tiresome to hear the media tell us that things are going to change when in fact they never do.

  22. theuglitruth says: Feb 22, 2014 12:16 AM

    Look, I’ve been vocal about how pathetic I think the Browns are…but I gotta give it to them for having the walnuts to try to push this trade through!

  23. therealraider says: Feb 22, 2014 3:22 AM

    Why does this “leak” stink of Lombardi?

  24. uplate5301 says: Feb 23, 2014 3:37 PM

    Why would the Niners want to keep Harbaugh, when they could probably get Mike Singletary back for a lot less? Sure, the team would go instantly from being SB contenders back to being a sub-500 team (funny how Harbaugh took Singletary’s 5-10 Niners and had the same team in the NFC Championship game his first year… must just be luck), but he’d cost a lot less. Maybe they could even get Dennis Erickson to come back. He’d cost even less than Singletary.

  25. uplate5301 says: Feb 23, 2014 3:39 PM

    And do you think maybe the Browns regret giving up Belichick for draft choices?

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