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Broncos ‘willing to explore’ trade for John Harbaugh

Reading the tea leaves, it appears John Elway has a candidate not named Mike Shanahan atop his head-coaching wish list.

According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, the Broncos are “willing to explore a possible deal” for current Baltimore Ravens head man John Harbaugh, whom FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported Sunday had received multiple trade overtures. The Miami Dolphins, who are expected to fire Adam Gase, are also sniffing around Harbaugh.

NFL trades involving coaches are real (though exceedingly rare), and the Ravens supposedly set their price for Harbaugh: Two — count ’em, two — first-round draft picks, per PFT. This cost-prohibitive demand is neither official nor fact, as the Ravens were said to be hammering out an extension with Harbaugh, who’s on the verge of ending Baltimore’s four-year playoff drought.

John Harbaugh will continue as our head coach for the 2019 season, and he and we are working on an extension to his existing contract, which expires after the 2019 season,” the team said in a statement released Dec. 21.

But if interested suitors are willing to pony up, Florio sees justification in the Ravens shipping away their Super Bowl-winning coach.

“… If multiple teams want Harbaugh now, the Ravens could leverage one against the other and maximize their haul,” he wrote. “If the Ravens are willing to explore the possibility of flipping Harbaugh’s contract for draft picks.

Given the intense value that the Ravens have placed on draft picks (no one has mastered the compensatory pick formula and process like the Ravens have), don’t be surprised if they ultimately pounce on a chance to make the team better in the long run by moving on from a guy who currently is committed for only one more year.”

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Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer recently reported that Baltimore’s intent to retain Harbaugh “reset” Denver and Miami’s plans for their respective searches.

As of this writing, the Ravens lead the Cleveland Browns, 20-7. They’re virtually guaranteed to clinch a postseason berth. Which virtually assures Harbaugh stays put.

Another option for the Broncos, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport floated Sunday, is keeping incumbent head man Vance Joseph for a third season and pairing him with Gary Kubiak, who’d come down from the front office to the sidelines as offensive coordinator. Rapoport conceded it’s a slim possibility, however, and signs point toward Joseph’s termination.

Assuming he axes Joseph, general manager John Elway is likely to target a veteran or retread coach rather than gamble on another up-and-comer with a limited resume. Mike McCarthy and Chuck Pagano are other “name” candidates among an otherwise uninspiring coaching cycle.

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