Notes on NFL interest in Jim Harbaugh: Where insiders think embattled Michigan HC could end up

NFL interest in Jim Harbaugh: Four teams in the mix for embattled Michigan HC
Notes on NFL interest in Jim Harbaugh: Where insiders think embattled Michigan HC could end up

Frank Reich was just the first of many coaches fired, as several jobs are expected to open up in the coming weeks. Washington, New England, the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas are expected to be in the market for new head coaches come January. Chicago and Tampa Bay could be added to the list.

One of the hottest names that teams will seek to lead their franchise is Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh. Here’s what league sources tell Sportskeeda about where Harbaugh may end up if he heads to the NFL.

Harbaugh’s name has been linked to NFL teams for several years, yet he consistently chose to return to Ann Arbor. Our sources say it’s less than 50-50 he repeats that decision, pointing to several factors.

Jim Harbaugh's future's up in the air
Jim Harbaugh's future's up in the air

Michigan has its best team in years and is primed to make a run for the national title or, at the very least, the title game. Then, multiple investigations have weighed on Harbaugh and the program, including the recent sign-stealing incident that has yet to come to a final conclusion.

From the Wolverines’ point of view, Sherrone Moore, handpicked by Harbaugh to lead the team during his most recent suspension, did a fantastic job the past three games, including victories over Penn State and Ohio State. He’s the natural replacement if Jim Harbaugh decides to return to the NFL.

Take charge of the 2024 NFL Draft: Explore our Free Mock Draft Simulator, featuring free trades, and lead your favorite NFL team as if you're the GM!

So, who could Harbaugh end up with? Here’s what our sources are telling us.

Could the Los Angeles Chargers move for Jim Harbaugh with Brandon Staley struggling?

The Chargers seem like a natural fit: They have a talented roster ready to win now, an established quarterback and only need a few more pieces. It’s also not too far from where Harbaugh started his coaching career, the University of San Diego.

As one source told Sportskeeda, the Chargers are desperate to get their own Sean McVay into the building they share with the Rams. As good a fit as it may be, few see Harbaugh ending up with the Chargers. There are two main factors: money and control.

Jim Harbaugh is likely to command an annual salary in excess of $15 million, and no one believes the Chargers, one of the most cash-strapped teams in the league, will pay any coach that amount of money. By contrast, current coach Brandon Staley is making a reported $4 million annually.

The other factor is control; wherever Harbaugh ends up, he’ll want a lot of it. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has done a good job putting together a roster that’s ready to win now, and people believe owner Dean Spanos won’t cede control over to Harbaugh.

Where the Carolina Panthers stand on bringing Jim Harbaugh to town

The Panthers’ job will be one of the least attractive for any candidate, especially someone like Jim Harbaugh.

Anyone who takes the Carolina job goes in knowing they do not have a pick in the first round of the draft, a selection expected to be the initial selection of the draft. Secondly, any new coach who inherits Bryce Young must be sold that the first pick of the 2023 NFL draft has the ability to lead the franchise into the future.

People close to Harbaugh tell us he’s not a fan of the quarterback, and Young makes the Panthers' job basically a non-starter.

Then there’s the fact he’ll have to deal with owner David Tepper, who likes to inject his opinions and steer decisions. Insiders tell us Harbaugh won’t stand for that.

Could the Las Vegas Raiders turn to Jim Harbaugh?

Here’s where it gets interesting. Our sources say Jim Harbaugh and Mark Davis have had a very good relationship for a while now, and the Raiders would be a natural fit, but several factors come into play.

First and foremost is the existing regime of Champ Kelly and Antonio Pierce. Some people in the league believe Davis will keep Kelly and Pierce around if the team finishes strong. As mentioned in this article from Nov. 4, there is a groundswell of support for Kelly within the Raiders organization.

There’s also the question of Davis being comfortable with the head coach once again being in full control. It didn’t work out for the Josh McDaniels-Dave Ziegler team, and Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock had a tough go of it on the personnel side.

The Raiders have a lot of interest in Harbaugh, yet in the end, it will come down to whoever Mark Davis is listening to and trusts.

Why Jim Harbaugh coaching the Chicago Bears is a little complicated

If the Bears clear out the front office, which is speculation at this point, it would be another interesting scenario in the Harbaugh saga. Putting aside for a second that Chicago selected Harbaugh in the first round of the 1987 draft, and he played with the organization for seven years, the franchise will be in an enviable position next April and attractive to any coaching candidate.

Bears Vikings Football
Bears Vikings Football

The team has a pair of first-round picks, including potentially the first selection of the draft courtesy of the Panthers and their own choice, which is likely to be a top-five pick. With several outstanding quarterbacks at the top of the draft as well as left-tackle prospects, Harbaugh could turn the franchise around immediately.

Sources add Jim Harbaugh is partial to having Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy with him should he be coaching on Sundays next season. A Sportskeeda report on Nov. 9 highlighted that the expectation is McCarthy will enter the draft after this season.

While we highly doubt any team would take McCarthy with a top-five pick, the Bears could once again trade down, as they did this past draft, and add a lot more draft capital to their ledger.

The Commanders have been mentioned as potential suitors for Harbaugh, yet with Washington moving toward analytics, few see that happening.

Quick Links

Edited by Tony Pauline