Statitudes Statitudes


Finding Mr. Right

Teams often benefit from trading picks for coaches

Posted: Monday February 18, 2002 11:42 PM

By Jacob Luft,

Critics mocked the Patriots for giving up a first-round pick for head coach Bill Belichick two years ago. But nobody is laughing now at the newly crowned Super Bowl champions.

The Buccaneers hope to pull off the same feat with their acquisition of Oakland head coach Jon Gruden, a move that will cost the franchise the steepest price ever for a nonplayer -- two first-rounders, two second-rounders and $8 million in cash.

If history is any indication, Gruden will prove to be well worth the price.

In 1971, the Dolphins were forced to give the Colts a first-round selection for Don Shula, who would lead Miami to five Super Bowl appearances. The Patriots' haul was four picks when Bill Parcells bolted for the Jets in 1997, but it was the Jets who returned to respectability because of the move. The Pats repaid them in kind by stealing Belichick three years later.

Tampa Bay's willingness to part with so many high picks might be a sign of things to come.

With parity ruling the league, the difference in talent between even the best and worst teams is marginal. Coaches have become the main difference between winning and losing, and this season nobody did a better job than Belichick and his staff.

Don Shula

Don Shula John Storey/Allsport
Ex-Team Years Record
Colts 1963-69 71-23-4
New Team Years Record
Dolphins 1970-95 257-133-2
After signing Shula, the Dolphins were penalized for tampering and forced to give up their first-round pick in 1971. The Colts used the pick, the 22nd overall, on Don McCauley, who rushed for 2,627 yards in 11 seasons with Baltimore. The Dolphins went to five Super Bowls under Shula, winning two.
Dom Capers

Dom Capers Rick Stewart/Allsport
Ex-Team Years Record
Steelers 1992-94 NA (Def. Coord.)
New Team Years Record
Panthers 1995-98 30-34
The expansion Panthers were found guilty of tampering in hiring their first head coach. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue stripped the team of two picks -- a No. 2 and No. 6 -- and fined Carolina $150,000. Capers led the Panthers to the 1996 NFC title game in only their second season.
Bill Parcells

Bill Parcells Al Bello/Allsport
Ex-Team Years Record
Patriots 1993-96 32-32
New Team Years Record
Jets 1997-99 29-19
After a messy squabble, the Patriots ended up with four picks -- first-, second-, third- and fourth-rounders spread over three seasons -- that were used on Sedrick Shaw, Damon Denson, Tony Simmons and Andy Katzenmoyer. Not exactly impact players. The Jets advanced to the 1998 AFC title game for the first time since 1982.
Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick Brian Bahr/Allsport
Ex-Team Years Record
Jets 1997-99 NA (Def. Coord.)
New Team Years Record
Patriots 2000-01 16-16
The Patriots got their payback for the Parcells fiasco by stealing his would-be successor in Belichick. New England gave up a No. 1 draft choice, which New York traded along with a No. 2 for Shaun Ellis, for the man who would lead them to a Super Bowl XXXVI victory.

Related information
Buccaneers hire Gruden as head coach
SI's Don Banks: Bucs' winding trek lands Gruden
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