The NFL saw some pretty significantly ... weird news on Friday, with a Pro Football Talk report claiming that the Cleveland Browns attempted to trade for San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Not only did the report claim that the trade was something the Browns pursued, it claimed that they "nearly pulled off" the trade.
Obviously, there's a lot of skepticism around the report. The Browns themselves didn't do much to deny things, but stated that they are pleased with Mike Pettine, their new head coach. San Francisco neglected to give an official statement on the matter initially, though some reports surfaced citing high-ranking sources that called the report "ridiculous."
Then, once Pro Football Talk had taken the offensive on Twitter -- suggesting that a lack of official word from San Francisco was proof of the reports legitimacy -- team president Jed York went on the record and said that the report is false.
In other words, the headline linked above, which calls this a "random ass report," seems pretty spot on. There might be a little bit of truth to this report, in that the Browns may have been interested in the one-in-a-million chance and sure, Harbaugh might be fond of the Browns organization.
But a team putting all of the cards -- even the crazy ones -- on the table behind closed doors is not the same thing as nearly pulling off a trade that would have sent Harbaugh to Cleveland and multiple draft picks to San Francisco.
Over at Niners Nation, David Fucillo is calling this a roller coaster, and it's easy to see why. With talks earlier this offseason about balance of power issues and the rumors regarding the University of Texas, it sounds like Harbaugh-related stories are not going to stop any time soon. This story itself may not stop any time soon, as every media member in existence seems to want to confirm or deny the initial report.
If that wasn't enough for you, here's what else you missed or might have missed from Friday in the NFL:
The Seattle Seahawks elected to release wide receiver Sidney Rice on Friday. It's unsurprising that the decision was made, given that Rice was set to make way too much money thanks to his five-year, $41 million contract that was signed in 2011. He's dealt with injuries and has struggled on the field since signing that deal, and the $7.3 million the Seahawks will create in cap savings with his release was always too much to pass up. It wouldn't be surprising to see Rice return on a cheaper deal, but it's likely another team will pay him more than Seattle will to take a chance.
Danny Kelly of Field Gulls talks about the potential to be re-signed:
Rice caught 15 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns in 8 games in 2013. It should be interesting to see, once this move happens, if Rice gets much interest on the free agent market. Most likely, I could see a team offering him a one-year 'prove it' type of deal that mitigates the obvious injury risk that comes along with Rice's knee and history. If the market is cold for the veteran, it's possible that Seattle re-signs him to a short term deal that keeps him with the team and hedges their roster for free agency and the Draft. Perhaps that's a deal they're trying to work on with Rice's representation this week in Indianapolis (hence, the "no decisions have been made" comment from the team). Stay tuned.
The Philadelphia Eagles have prioritized their options at wide receiver, and Jeremy Maclin comes out on top, according to one report. Maclin and Riley Cooper are both scheduled to become free agents when the new league year starts. The report suggests that Philadelphia is looking to give Maclin a one-year contract and pick up another receiver in free agency, but also says that the team could revisit Cooper if the situation is right. Both players would likely earn multi-year deals from other teams on the open market.
The New York Giants gave head coach Tom Coughlin a one-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2015 season. Coughlin broke the news himself at the Scouting Combine on Friday. Coughlin will be 68 years old when the next season begins, and folks have been talking retirement for a long time. This move essentially means that the Giants want Coughlin with them if he's going to coach in the NFL, though Coughlin retiring before his deal is up remains a possibility.
St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher spoke at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday, and had some insight regarding cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Long considered a potential cap casualty, Fisher said that he expected Finnegan to be back and in the team's offseason program. Finnegan spent most of last season due to injuries, and has a cap hit of $10 million in 2014. There's been some recent talk about a possible restructure, which seems like it would be good for both sides. It would be very surprising to see him play in 2014 under his current contract.
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had some important news at the Scouting Combine on Friday. He said that the team plans to keep offensive linemen David Bakhtiari on the left side, and will shift Bryan Bulaga back over to the right side. It seems likely that Bakhtiari is the left tackle of the future, as noted by Jason Hirschhorn of Acme Packing Company:
While McCarthy left himself some wiggle room, this is the strongest indication that the team is committed to Bakhtiari at left tackle for the long term. Questions about the Packers' offensive line plans arose recently when Bryan Bulaga, briefly the starting blindside protector, suggested that the team remained uncertain on his position. Perhaps that's still the case, but McCarthy has removed all doubt that left tackle is Bakhtiari's position to lose heading into 2014.
The Detroit Lions are reportedly in the market for a veteran backup quarterback. The team currently has Matthew Stafford entrenched at the starter, and long-time NFL veteran Shaun Hill as his backup. Hill is scheduled to become a free agent in March, but it's worth noting that he's considered one of the best backups in the NFL. The Lions could be exploring other options in the event that they won't be able to afford him. Regardless, they'll try and retain him as well.
In addition to that, the Lions are looking into bringing back tight end Brandon Pettigrew. This was already assumed, but the two sides are already talking extension before he hits the open market in March.
SB Nation's combine coverage
Friday at the combine saw the arrival of the third group, as well as measurements for quarterbacks, receivers and running backs. We've got the measurements for receivers here and quarterbacks here, and there were few surprises. The biggest news was the fact that Johnny Manziel came in under six feet tall, when he said he'd hit the mark right on. Still, he didn't miss it by much. Lastly, we had our Day 2 recap from Dan Kadar here.