May 30, 2024

These are the teams to watch if Harbaugh decides to join the NFL.

The storyline surrounding Jim Harbaugh’s future at Michigan is among the most uncertain in sports. It appeared certain a few months ago that the head coach would sign an extension and remain with the Wolverines for the foreseeable future, but things are changing now.

Although there are rumors that Harbaugh is getting close to signing a new contract, he is still without one, so it’s possible that this is beyond the control of both parties. The NCAA is still looking into “SignalGate,” and if history has taught us anything, it’s that, when things get tough, college coaches tend to bail.

If it turns out that Harbaugh knew about the sign-stealing scandal, there’s a good chance he could be hit with a hefty fine and suspended from the NCAA, which would force Michigan to fire the coach. It’s time to speculate about where Harbaugh might end up if he leaves the Wolverines, as his contract situation remains uncertain and multiple NFL teams are preparing to search for a proven coach.

Panthers of Carolina
This is a natural fit, and by “natural” I mean that they will give him as much control and pay him whatever he desires.

Owner of the Panthers David Tepper is a master manipulator who will stop at nothing to claim credit for a team’s accomplishments. In Carolina, that has been disastrous. Nevertheless, this is the NFL’s richest single owner, and he would undoubtedly open the wallet for Harbaugh, appoint any supporting personnel he desires, and possibly even grant him general manager-level authority over football operations.

We’re starting to get the feeling that current general manager Scott Fitterer isn’t going to be around for very long at Carolina, so a thorough house cleaning is probably in store for the spring. This team is coming off of hiring Frank Reich, a popular and wise coach, so it’s time for them to try to turn things around with something brazen and foolish.

The Raiders of Las Vegas
Because it’s ingrained in their DNA, I think the Raiders have a great chance of winning. Nothing pleases Mark Davis more than to fire an exciting, promising interim coach and replace them with a big-name hire.

There are doubts about the Raiders’ ability to pay Josh McDaniels’ remaining contract and acquire Harbaugh in a high-profile deal, but I have faith that they will find a way.

It’s not a bad place to land from a football standpoint. The Raiders have some talented players on their offensive and defense teams; all they need to do is play to their fullest potential. If Davis hired Harbaugh, he would essentially retain him for the term of the agreement out of need for money, giving him a lot of leeway.

Bears of Chicago
This still makes sense as the long-rumored landing spot for Harbaugh. Chicago’s primary issue is coaching, which presents Harbaugh with an opportunity to turn things around right away. The icing on the cake appears to be that the Bears (from Carolina) will select first overall in the 2024 NFL Draft, giving Harbaugh the opportunity to select his franchise quarterback or, should he decide to go with Justin Fields, acquire a premier weapon such as Marvin Harrison Jr.

Taking over a legendary team like the Bears has many benefits, and Harbaugh has a lot of Midwest regional ties there as well. This also makes a great deal of sense.

Patriots of New England
Shall we just play around with this a little bit? The idea of Harbaugh taking over the Patriots is not without its moving parts, as it would be triggered by either Bill Belichick’s resignation or his departure.

Given how closely Belichick is to every member of the coaching staff, there is a very good chance that one of those things will occur, giving Harbaugh the opportunity to leave his mark on the entire team. Furthermore, this team has long permitted its coach to serve as the de facto general manager, which would appeal to Harbaugh as a logical next step if he’s looking to take over an organization.

Though it seems like a remote possibility, don’t discount this.

Robert Saleh of the New York Jets shouldn’t necessarily be punished for losing Aaron Rodgers, but his persistent vacillating between good and bad quarterback selections is undoubtedly an issue.

Harbaugh would find this to be a tempting landing spot because he could come in and start saving lives immediately. He would essentially build the Jets the team they were meant to have in 2023, and just that alone would make them much better in 2024. For “turning things around,” Harbaugh would receive flowers right away, even though he doesn’t need to do anything other than coach to get the team there.

With all of the Jets’ talent, Harbaugh might be the one to bring it all together.

Washington Commanders

A coach whose seat gets hotter by the minute and new ownership. Is Harbaugh in the nation’s capital, according to that? Maybe.

It’s hard to imagine how Ron Rivera will be able to coach after this season because, barring a major development in 2023, it was always all but certain that this would be his final season in that role. It’s common for new owners to select “their guy,” and Harbaugh would make a strong impression that they’re seeking greatness rather than mediocrity.

The team led by the Commander is not too bad. The defensive line needs to be revamped and there are still unanswered questions at quarterback, but the cupboard isn’t empty. Being able to play in the highly visible NFC East and be close to his brother could be extremely alluring to Harbaugh.

What are the chances that Harbaugh will join the NFL?
Here, that is the major unknown. Although every indication suggests that Michigan and Harbaugh want to stick together, they may not have the final say. Although the coach has previously made overtures to the NFL as leverage, this time it feels different.

It’s that simple: if the NCAA throws some dirt on Harbaugh, he’s out. It remains to be seen if that evidence is real or not.

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