Jim Harbaugh

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. With Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints, there are now nine full-time vacancies available this year. After Thursday’s news, two of those openings (Denver and Chicago) have been filled, and a major candidate in Dan Quinn has decided to remain in Dallas. Friday saw another name scratched off the list, with the Giants making their HC hire.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-28-21 (10:0pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Jags’ GM Backs Eberflus for HC

The Jaguars have had a bit of turbulence as they try to replace Urban Meyer, but a favorite has emerged as Colts’ defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was the first candidate to be invited back for a second interview. An important aspect of Jacksonville’s search, Eberflus has received a strong backing from Jaguars’ general manager Trent Baalke, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. 

Baalke has a reputation for being a difficult general manager for head coaches to work with. Back when Baalke was the 49ers’ general manager in 2014, many reports of clashes with Jim Harbaugh littered the season, which ended with San Francisco and Harbaugh parting ways. This has made the search for a new head coach difficult as La Canfora reports that top candidates for the job are “only seriously considering it if assured Baalke would be out following the draft.” Baalke has been accused by sources of trying to prize his job security while securing a head coach.

Baalke first endorsed University of Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, but, after O’Brien interviewed for the position, Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan‘s son, Tony Khan, and a high-ranking official with the team shared their issues with O’Brien’s history of toxicity.

With O’Brien out of the running, Baalke set his sights on Eberflus. The four-year defensive coordinator in Indianapolis has overseen a top-10 scoring defense in three of his four seasons calling the defense. Eberflus’s defense was exposed by the very team he’s interviewing for when the Colts’ allowed 26 points in a must-win Week 18 loss to the Jaguars that eliminated Indianapolis from postseason contention.

Jacksonville’s willingness to seriously consider the candidate Baalke prefers points to them potentially wanting to keep Baalke as general manager. If this is the route they follow, it will likely tie Baalke’s future to Eberflus’s. There are still several candidates alive in this search, though. Keep track of the situation by following our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Matt Rhule Eyeing Michigan Job

With next season looking more and more like a make-or-break year for Matt Rhule, the Panthers’ head coach may be making anticipatory moves to stay employed. Jason La Canfora, of CBS Sports, reported that Rhule, and potentially other head coaches in the NFL, may set their sights on the University of Michigan opening, should current head coach Jim Harbaugh be drawn to Las Vegas. 

Harbaugh is currently negotiating with Michigan after he led the Wolverines to their first College Football Playoff appearance and their first outright Big Ten Championship since 2003. He had signed an extension at the start of the season to secure him in Ann Arbor through 2025, but, with mounting interest from the Raiders, the negotiations are giving Michigan a chance to convince him to stay. The Raiders are searching for a new general manager as well as head coach, following the departures of Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden. Harbaugh isn’t the only target in Vegas, though. He’ll have to compete with interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who, despite a season of turmoil, led the Raiders to a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Jerod Mayo and DeMeco Ryans have also been mentioned as candidates.

Rhule’s interest in heading back down to the college ranks of coaching have not quite been a secret. Sources have informed La Canfora that Rhule was watching the situations at Penn State and LSU closely, in case a beneficial opportunity presented itself.

Rhule got his first head coaching opportunity at Temple in Philadelphia, where he had spent years as an assistant under Al Golden. He took his first Power 5 opportunity as the head coach at Baylor, following the scandal that led to Art Briles‘s dismissal. He took the Bears from 1-11 in his first season to 11-3 in his third season and rode that success straight to the NFL.

There are still many situations that need to play out. Harbaugh would have to leave Michigan. Rhule would have to decide to put his name in the ring for the vacancy at Michigan. Michigan would have to determine that Rhule is the best candidate for the position. None of this is guaranteed, but, if it all plays out, look for Carolina to be added to our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Jim Harbaugh Would Reportedly Take Vegas HC Job If Offered

Rumors have been constantly swirling around Jim Harbaugh and the Raiders’ head coaching position. While most of the reporting and speculation to date has been centered on owner Mark Davis working to convince Harbaugh to return to the NFL, not much has been said with respect to the latter’s interest in the position. 

According to a report from Bruce Feldman of the Athletic, the presumption that the current Michigan HC is the favorite to take over in Las Vegas is certainly warranted from both perspectives. As he writes, there are “multiple sources” inside the school’s program who “think [that] if Harbaugh is offered the Raiders’ head coaching job, he’d take it”.

The 58-year-old’s ties to the franchise date back to 2002, the start of his NFL coaching career. It was then, during his tenure as the team’s QB coach, that a longstanding friendship with Davis began. Feldman also notes that Harbaugh “has family ties to Las Vegas, which is where he met his wife”. Those were some of the factors that made him an early favorite for the HC position, before the Raiders even began conducting interviews.

Recent developments have also pointed towards Harbaugh ultimately being hired. GM Mike Mayock was let go on Monday; one of the effects of that decision is, according to many, an increased likelihood that interim HC Rick Bisaccia won’t return despite his ability to settle down a turbulent season and help guide the team to the playoffs. It has been reported for weeks, of course, that Davis has his sights set on Harbaugh, and has all along. A departure from Bisaccia would only open the door further to Harbaugh being brought in.

Two things are important to keep in mind with this situation. Firstly, Bisaccia interviewed for the full-time HC gig on Wednesday, so he does still have a chance to be retained. Secondly, as Feldman warns, “Harbaugh can be hard to read”. Taking that point into consideration, along with the fact that the Wolverines just had their best season of Harbaugh’s tenure (defeating Ohio State en route to a CFP semifinal appearance), leaves open the possibility that Michigan could try to keep him in place with a new contract.

Ultimately, though, this latest news seems to be another signal that a second head coaching role is in the cards for the former Super Bowl runner-up.

Dolphins Request Permission To Interview Bills OC Brian Daboll

Brian Daboll is emerging as a popular name for head coaching vacancies. Following news that the Bears requested permission to interview the Bills OC, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the Dolphins also requested permission to interview Daboll.

[RELATED: Dolphins Fire HC Brian Flores]

The move would reunite Daboll with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who played under Daboll when the two were at Alabama. Since Daboll’s one-year stint as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, he’s served in the same role with the Bills. Following an inconsistent first season in the role, the Bills offense has been among the top-10(ish) units over the past three years. That includes a passing offense that ranked second in points scored in 2020 and third in points scored in 2021.

A Daboll hiring would also be a bit of a homecoming for the coach after he served as Miami’s offensive coordinator in 2011. Daboll has also served as OC with the Chiefs and Browns, and he’s worked on the coaching staffs for the Jets and Patriots.

While Daboll is a candidate, we know one person who will not be considered for the role. Many assumed that owner Stephen Ross, who is a major Michigan donor, would target Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh. However, following reports that the Dolphins wouldn’t be pursuing the veteran coach, Ross confirmed the news to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

“I’m not going to be the person to take Jim Harbaugh from the University of Michigan,” Ross said (Twitter link).

The Dolphins fired Brian Flores earlier today. The 40-year-old took over as the Fins’ HC in 2019, compiling an overall record of 24-25. A 10-6 finish last year was the cause of a great deal of optimism for the future for the team. However, Flores found himself on the hot seat following an early-season seven-game losing streak, but many pundits assumed he saved his job when the team turned things around and won seven-straight games. Ultimately, Flores was handed his walking papers.

Raiders’ HC Search Narrowing

The Raiders’ 2021-22 NFL season hasn’t yet come to an end, but, according to the rumors circulating in the NFL, Raiders’ owner Mark Davis is already locked-in on his preferred replacement hire for head coach. Davis hasn’t conducted an official search, but Mike Florio of NBC Sports confirms what most of the league is thinking: that Davis already knows who he wants.

As of right now, the hot gossip around the league is pointing to Davis pursuing current University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh, of course, had a previous stint in the NFL, coaching the 49ers for four seasons. Harbaugh’s record as an NFL head coach stands at 44-19-1. Harbaugh went to the NFC Championship game in all of his first three seasons and even made it to the Super Bowl in his second year, only to lose to his older brother and the Ravens. Harbaugh’s fourth year saw the 49ers go 8-8 and resulted in the end of his contract.

Since his departure from the NFL, Harbaugh has been one of college football’s more eccentric coaches, leading the Wolverines to a 61-24 record since 2015 and helping Michigan to their first Big Ten Championship since 2004. The upside of Harbaugh is apparent as he has shown the ability to win at both levels.

Current interim head coach of the Raiders, Rich Bisaccia, may have something to say about that, though. Bisaccia took over after Jon Gruden’s noisy departure and has kept the ship upright, going 6-5 and keeping the Raiders alive in the playoff hunt. Things could get interesting if the team rallies under Bisaccia to make some noise in the playoffs.

According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Davis, who also owns the Las Vegas Aces, made a splashy hire for their head coaching position, pulling Becky Hammon away from the San Antonio Spurs. What’s interesting is that he told Bill Laimbeer, the incumbent head coach of the Aces from the previous season, that, if Hammon declined to take the position, Laimbeer would be retained. A similar offer could be in the cards for Harbaugh and Bisaccia.

The unfortunate part of this situation is that, when owners make up their mind like this before a search can be conducted, it makes a mockery of the league’s Rooney Rule. Davis will surely make sure his franchise complies with the rule, inviting ethnic-minority candidates in to interview, but interviews haven’t even begun to be planned, and the outcome already seems like a foregone conclusion.

Regardless, all signs are pointing to Jim Harbaugh becoming the next head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders with his main competition being the current interim head coach. Bisaccia looks to to make Davis’s decision a little more difficult tonight with a win against the Chargers.

Jim Harbaugh On Raiders’ Radar

During Jim Harbaugh‘s final days as 49ers head coach, the Raiders placed him atop their list. Harbaugh ended up trekking to Michigan, leading Jack Del Rio to Oakland, during that 2015 offseason. Seven years later, the Raiders may be back in the Harbaugh mix.

The Raiders and Harbaugh have been connected for a few weeks now, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (video link) that the current Wolverines HC is expected to be interested in becoming the next Raiders leader. While this should be taken with a grain of salt, since Harbaugh surfaces in NFL coaching rumors annually, the longtime HC did begin his coaching career with the Raiders.

Prior to becoming a successful college head coach, the former NFL quarterback was Oakland’s QBs coach from 2002-03. That ’02 season ended with Rich Gannon winning MVP honors and the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. Following the ’03 season, Harbaugh became head coach at the University of San Diego. That led to his Stanford gig and re-emergence on the NFL radar. Harbaugh, 58, has not exactly been off the NFL grid since returning to his alma mater, but there could be more smoke here.

Ahead of Harbaugh’s initial Michigan agreement, the Raiders offered more money and were prepared to make him the NFL’s highest-paid HC. Initially given an $8MM-per-year contract at Michigan, Harbaugh saw his salary slashed to $4MM as part of an incentive-laden deal last year. While Harbaugh said publicly the contract adjustment was “no big deal,” Breer adds, understandably, the veteran coach was not pleased with the pay cut. Harbaugh only accepted Michigan’s latest offer after exploring an NFL return with the Jets and Chargers last year.

After Michigan beat Ohio State for the first time in Harbaugh’s tenure, the seventh-year Wolverines HC led the team to the College Football Playoff for the first time. Georgia dispatched the Big Ten program easily in the semifinals. This coming after Michigan went 2-4 in 2020’s pandemic-truncated season, however, represented tremendous growth for the Wolverines.

The Raiders did not join the Jaguars in going through early HC interviews, with Breer adding the team sticking with interim coach Rich Bisaccia is not out of the question. The Raiders have a chance to clinch their first playoff berth in five years Sunday.

Matt Eberflus, Jerod Mayo Could Be Candidates For Bears HC

Matt Nagy could be coaching his final game with the Bears tomorrow. If that’s the case, the focus will pivot to his replacement, and we’re already starting to hear some chatter about potential candidates. According to Albert Breer of SI.com, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo would be in the mix if the Bears HC gig opens up.

Breer also acknowledges that Chicago has been connected to bigger names like Jim Harbaugh and Sean Payton, but he can’t envision the organization getting into a bidding war for either coach. Breer also notes that former Bears cornerback (and current Bills defensive coordinator) Leslie Frazier could be a logical option.

During their last HC search, the Bears were focused on adding “quarterback-developers.” However, that won’t necessarily be the case this time around. While the organization will obviously want to hear the candidates’ plans for QB Justin Fields, Breer believes the Bears are instead focused on hiring a “leader-of-men” coach.

Eberflus served as a linebackers coach for almost a decade with the Browns and Cowboys, but he finally got a shot at a DC gig in 2018. In Indy, the 51-year-old has been credited with establishing a culture built on hustle and discipline, and his defenses have mostly been up to the challenge. Eberflus’s defenses have consistently been ranked in the top-half of the NFL for their ability to stop the run, and the team has ranked top-10 in takeaways during each of his four seasons at the helm.

Mayo had a standout career with the Patriots, with the former 10th-overall pick earning two Pro Bowl nods and a Super Bowl ring during his eight seasons in New England. Mayo rejoined the organization as their linebackers coach in 2019. While New England is currently operating without a true defensive coordinator, Mayo (along with Steve Belichick) are assumed to be atop the defensive coaching depth chart.

Jim Harbaugh Mulling NFL Return?

In recent weeks, we’ve heard that NFL teams could be eyeing Jim Harbaugh as a head coaching candidate. Now, according to sources who spoke with The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, it appears that the interest is mutual. 

I think it’s real,” said one source in the know, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

This isn’t the first time that Harbaugh has been connected to a potential NFL return. In late 2020, Harbaugh was said to be thinking about bailing on Ann Arbor, up he publicly vowed to stay with the Wolverines.

Yeah, that question does come up and I tell ’em, my plan is, committed to Michigan,” Harbaugh said, referring conversations with recruits. “Have been, am and will remain. As far as the (contract), [athletic director Warde Manuel] and I will talk at the end of the season on the current contract. That’s the truth. That’s where it stands.”

Feldman speculates that Harbaugh’s ties to Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and owner Mark Davis could make him a natural fit. Then again, interim head coach Rich Bisaccia has them riding a three-game winning streak heading into the regular season finale. Even if that job doesn’t become available, Feldman notes that the Bears could be a solid fit for the 58-year-old.

Harbaugh established himself as a top-tier coach with the 49ers, leading them to a Super Bowl appearance plus two NFC title games. His Niners went just 8-8 in his final season (2014) but, overall, he owns a career 44-19-1 regular season record.

NFL Teams Showing Interest In Jim Harbaugh?

After guiding his alma mater to a berth in the College Football Playoffs, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is riding high right now. However, ESPN’s Dan Graziano cautions that the HC still has plenty of suitors in the NFL if he wishes to return to professional football. According to the reporter, “there are whispers of NFL teams showing interest” in Harbaugh.

Harbaugh established himself as an elite coach when he was in San Francisco. Between 2011 and 2013, the 49ers had 36 regular season games, made a Super Bowl, and lost a pair of NFC Championship Games. However, San Francisco went only 8-8 in 2014, and thanks in part to power struggles with GM Trent Baalke, Harbaugh and the organization agreed to mutually part ways.

It didn’t take long for the coach to find his next gig. Harbaugh was soon hired by Michigan to be their head coach. The team had their ups and downs through Harbaugh’s first six seasons with the school, but he helped return the Wolverines to glory in 2021. The team finished 12-1 and won their first Big Ten title in 17 years, with Harbaugh being named The Associated Press college football coach of the year.

Thanks to this recent success, it seems that Harbaugh will be sticking around Michigan for the foreseeable future. However, Graziano opines that NFL teams would happily lure the HC back to the league. Specifically, the writer points to the Raiders as a potential suitor. Mark Davis is still reeling from the ousting of Jon Gruden, and Graziano opines that Las Vegas would be the organization to think most “outside-the-box” when it comes to hiring a replacement. Plus, per the reporter, Davis and Harbaugh “have a friendship that dates back a ways.” The Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross (who is from Michigan) have also been connected to Harbaugh throughout the years, but Graziano wonders if Brian Flores (along with GM Chris Grier) have bought themselves some time as the Dolphins have worked their way back into playoff contention.