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Teams can still trade for head coaches


Amid the ongoing talk that the 49ers will trade coach Jim Harbaugh, some of you politely have asked for a refresher as to the rules regarding a trade for a coach. Some of you, far less politely, have insisted that the NFL has changed the rules to prohibit trades of head coaches.

The league office has confirmed that trades can indeed be made of head coaches.

“Except for head coaches and high-level club employees (club presidents, general managers, and persons with equivalent responsibility and authority), clubs are not permitted to exchange draft choices or cash for the release of individuals who are under contract to another organization,” the league’s anti-tampering policy states.

When coaches are traded, it doesn’t happen the same way players are traded. Typically the coach’s contract doesn’t get shipped to a new team. Instead, the two teams agree on compensation (draft picks and/or cash) that would be exchanged if the new team works out a contract with the coach. If that happens, the current team releases the coach in exchange for the compensation.

So, yes, Harbaugh can be traded. Whether he actually is traded remains to be seen.