It happened 19 years ago in Tampa, with the Raiders essentially trading Jon Gruden to the Buccaneers. It happened several years later in Kansas City, with the Jets essentially trading Herm Edwards (whom they otherwise were planning to fire) to the Chiefs. It nearly happened in 2014, with the Browns trying to essentially trade for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. (Harbaugh ultimately decided not to make the move.)
It almost happened one other time, but that’s a story for another day.
It’s a viable strategy for any coach seeking a new head coach, and hoping to hire a proven commodity instead of relying on the potential Peter Principle-proving promotion of a coordinator. It’s not a trade per se, because it starts with the new team calling a coach’s current team, inquiring about whether the current team would be willing to be compensated for losing the coach, and reaching a deal for what the compensation would be. Then, the new team would communicate directly with the coach in the hopes of working out a contract pursuant to which he’d be employed by the new team.
In the current cycle, there’s buzz that one of the teams currently looking for a coach — the Jets, Jaguars, Lions, Falcons, Chargers, and Texans — could attempt to hire a current head coach with another team. The coach’s current team could end it all quickly by hanging up the phone. But it costs nothing to make the call, and it’s believed that at least one team may make the call to one of the teams that, at least for now, has a head coach.