There’s going to be a handful of NFL head-coaching vacancies this offseason, and the candidates for those openings might not be limited to coaches currently employed in the league.
Jim Harbaugh seemingly is a name to keep an eye on. Michigan is in the midst of a lousy season, and the program hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations since Harbaugh took over as Wolverines head coach in 2015.
These factors have led some to believe Harbaugh could eye a return to the NFL. If he is trying to make a jump back to the pro level, Albert Breer believes there are two franchises that make the most sense as landing spots.
“Jim Harbaugh?s name has continued circulating. My sense is that research has been done on his NFL prospects, and if there were a landing spot for him it?d be either the Jets or Bears,” Breer wrote in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column for Sports Illustrated. “Jets owner Woody Johnson has long had a fascination with Harbaugh, and GM Joe Douglas worked with his brother in Baltimore. And Harbaugh?s got the obvious ties to the Bears, the organization that drafted him, and where he played seven seasons. But neither is even close to a sure thing. So where does all this stand? My guess would be that Michigan will put an extension offer in front of him this week, and he?ll weigh it with his other options. Some believe he could turn down an extension?and stay with Michigan, betting on himself going into a contract year.”
The Jets have a chance to present an awfully appealing gig if they move on from Adam Gase. Should New York hold the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft and select Trevor Lawrence, the incoming coach would have the opportunity to work with a quarterback who many view as a generational talent. Job security also can be a bit more firm when the signal-caller is young and has a high ceiling.
Perhaps the Bears would interest Harbaugh more, though. The situation in Chicago somewhat mirrors the one Harbaugh took on in San Francisco in the early 2010s. The Bears are in win-now mode with a defense that has the resources to be an elite unit. They also have a young, dual-threat quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky isn’t as dynamic as Colin Kaepernick was, but the skill sets are similar.
All of this, of course, merely is speculation. Head-coaching jobs in New York and Chicago aren’t even available at present. But Harbaugh nonetheless is an intriguing case to follow.