Browns owner Jimmy Haslam confirms opportunity to trade for Jim Harbaugh

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

One of the strangest NFL stories this year just got a little weirder.

Most NFL teams had their eyes focused on the scouting combine in Indianapolis, but one team was forced to answer questions about a possible coaching change. The San Francisco 49ers denied they engaged in talks with Cleveland about exchanging head coach Jim Harbaugh for a draft pick; now the Browns' owner is saying there were discussions.

Jimmy Haslam told USA TODAY that his organization had indeed spoken with the 49ers about getting their head coach, but ultimately a deal couldn't be finalized.

"There was an opportunity there, and it didn't materialize," Haslam told USA TODAY Sports.

Statements from Haslam contradict those from 49ers president Jed York, who called the initial report from Pro Football Talk that the team suggested a multi-pick trade a lie. There has been no response from San Francisco at this time and the organization will likely look to distance itself from the story as much as possible.

Cleveland ultimately hired Mike Pettine as head coach, who was forced to address questions about being a consolation prize after the Browns were linked to numerous coaching candidates. The quotes from Haslam won't change the team's preparation, but raise plenty of questions about the relationship between Harbaugh and the 49ers.

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