1:37pm: Providing a further update to the Raiders connection in particular, Pauline reports Harbaugh would be interested in having quarterback J.J. McCarthy with him in Vegas in the event he took that job. The latter – whom Harbaugh recently termed the greatest QB in Michigan history – is one of several passers in contention to be selected in the first round of this year’s draft, although he is ranked below the likes of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels.
Entering Week 18, the Raiders were on track to hold the No. 11 pick in April’s draft. Plenty will change in that department over the course of the day’s action, but Vegas could be well positioned to add McCarthy or another QB outside the top options on the board. With Jimmy Garoppolo‘s Raiders tenure widely expected to come to an end shortly, the team will have a need for at least a depth addition under center this offseason regardless of who is installed as head coach.
11:33am: Recent reports have suggested that the Raiders and Chargers are the likeliest landing spots for Jim Harbaugh should Harbaugh choose to leave the University of Michigan and return to the professional ranks. Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda.com adds some more fuel to that fire.
Per Pauline, Las Vegas and Los Angeles are “pressing hard” to hire Harbaugh, and there are rumors that both clubs have made initial proposals to Harbaugh’s camp. While Pauline is unable to substantiate those rumors, he does say that rumors suggesting Harbaugh’s decision to hire agent Don Yee gives the Raiders an upper hand in these sweepstakes are true (Yee was the longtime agent for Tom Brady, who is likely to soon become a minority owner of the Raiders and who is a trusted voice for majority owner Mark Davis).
We heard at the end of December that Las Vegas interim head coach Antonio Pierce may stand a good chance of having the interim label removed and becoming the club’s full-time head HC. Subsequent reports, however, suggested that Davis may decide to take another “big swing” as he did with his hires of Jon Gruden and Josh McDaniels, and that Davis wants his Sin City outfit to be led by a high-profile coach.
Harbaugh certainly qualifies as a high-profile big swing, as does Bill Belichick, who has also been connected to the Raiders’ post. Harbaugh, whose Wolverines will appear in tomorrow’s CFP National Championship game, may yet elect to remain in Ann Arbor, and he reportedly has multiple extension offers on the table from Michigan (Yee’s hiring, aside from what it might mean for Harbaugh’s NFL hopes, obviously would also assist him in his negotiations with his alma mater). The looming presence of the Wolverines, along with Pauline’s report — which conflicts with earlier reports pegging the Chargers as the frontrunners for Harbaugh’s services — make this race a very difficult one to handicap.
Pauline muddies the waters even further by noting that the Bears and Commanders have also shown signficiant interest in Harbaugh. Just two days ago, Albert Breer of SI.com reported that Harbaugh is an unlikely candidate for Washington, though Pauline points to the team’s five top-100 picks in the 2024 draft and signifciant amount of cap space (roughly $80MM) as factors that sources close to Harbaugh say could draw the former 49ers HC to the nation’s capital. And while Chicago’s recent stretch of quality play has led to the belief that its current head coach, Matt Eberflus, has done enough to keep his job for at least one more season, Pauline says that could change if the Bears believe they have a chance to nab Harbaugh.
Should Harbaugh land an NFL gig in 2024, Pauline names Greg Roman and Willie Taggart as potential key coaching hires. Roman worked under Harbaugh’s brother, John Harbaugh, with the Ravens from 2017-22, including a four-year stretch as offensive coordinator from 2019-22. Taggart is currently on Baltimore’s staff as the team’s running backs coach and has a close relationship with both Harbaughs.
Of course, Roman also worked as Jim Harbaugh’s associate head coach at Stanford from 2009-10 and then as his OC with the Niners from 2011-14.