John Harbaugh rips Bears for 'mistake'

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh heavily criticized the Chicago Bears' front office on Tuesday for a botched draft-day trade, calling into question the Bears' honesty and ethical integrity.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo profusely apologized at the time, claiming to have made a simple mistake. But Harbaugh, appearing Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000, was skeptical about the team's intent in April's draft, asserting what it had done "was just not honest."

"It was disappointing," Harbaugh said. "They can get mad at me if they want, but I'm not buying the mistake thing. It wasn't a mistake. They knew what they were doing.

"They put their guy on the phone. They agreed to a pick. They got their guy on the phone. They recognized he wasn't getting calls from the team behind them, and they basically stalled for over a minute, telling us they had called the trade in. They hadn't called the trade in. They said it was a mistake. Those guys have been doing it for a long time, c'mon."

When contacted Tuesday, a Bears team official said, "We've moved on months ago."

The Bears and Ravens agreed to a draft-day trade that involved the teams swapping first-round picks, with the Bears giving up a fourth-round selection to move up from the 29th slot to the 26th, where the Ravens were sitting. With approximately 2½ minutes remaining for the teams to consummate the trade officially with the league, the Ravens had followed the proper protocol, but the Bears had not.

League rules stipulate both teams have to confirm a trade with the league to make a deal official.

The Bears' failure to inform the league of the trade led to the clock expiring, which forced the Ravens to pass on the 26th pick that they were trading to the Bears. The Ravens ended up passing it to the Kansas City Chiefs, who selected wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin.

Baltimore went on to draft Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith at No. 27, while the Bears -- who offered the trade to move up because of the fear of losing Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi to another team -- selected Carimi with their original 29th pick.

Sources familiar with the situation said at the time that Angelo delegated the responsibility of calling in the trade to a pair of team staffers, who didn't take care of the matter because each thought the other one had done it.

Angelo apologized to Baltimore for the miscue, but the Ravens wanted compensation for the fourth-round pick the teams agreed to in the trade. Commissioner Roger Goodell encouraged the Bears to extend the Ravens draft-pick compensation, but Angelo refused.

"You communicate back and forth. And someone's responsible for calling a trade in," Harbaugh said Tuesday. "There's no way to not get that done. We saw on TV that they had their guy on the phone and he was who they were talking to, and then they drafted him.

"So they basically just stole two spots from us, and that's not OK. That's not something ... it's not ethical, it's not right. And I personally agree with our owner Steve Bisciotti that they should have been held accountable for it. But also it is what it is, they didn't do anything illegal. We were just disappointed with it."

Angelo said at the time he wasn't concerned about the botched trade tarnishing his reputation in league circles, claiming that "there has been a hell of a lot worse that has (been) done to me on the clock, and there have been things out there documented."

Bisciotti expressed disappointment in the McCaskey family at the time, and it's clear that the Ravens probably won't be making trades with the Bears in the future.

"Of course," Harbaugh said, when asked whether the Ravens would be reluctant to deal with the Bears in trade matters moving forward. "How do you know that they actually called a trade in? I know one thing, we'll be a lot more careful with all of our... we basically just took them at their word, and obviously that was a mistake."

Bears linebacker Lance Briggs hopes the talks didn't go down the way Harbaugh described.

"I don't know what happened in this situation," Briggs said Tuesday on "Carmen, Jurko & Harry" on ESPN 1000. "If it went down the way John Harbaugh (said) then obviously shame on us. Shame on our organization for that because you don't really need to do that in order to get what you want.

"And fortunately both organizations were able to get what they wanted which I am happy about that. But I'm never for the shady business stuff."

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.