Jim Harbaugh

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh Denies NFL Interest

This week, a college football blog reported that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was looking to get out of his contract and return to the NFL. On Wednesday, Harbaugh denied those rumors in a letter to the parents of his players. 

I am reaching out to let you know that the recent claims that I am ‘pursuing an exit strategy’ are total crap,” Harbaugh wrote (via Sam Webb of The Michigan Insider). “It’s an annual strategy driven by our enemies to cause disruption to our program an to negatively recruit. By the way, I don’t even have an ‘agent or representative.’”

This isn’t the first time that Harbaugh has been linked to the pro game since taking over the Wolverines in 2015 and it likely won’t be the last. This past offseason, the Jets reportedly went after the ex-49ers HC and the Dolphins were also said to have him high on their list.

Harbaugh led the 49ers to three straight NFC championship games in his first three years as their head coach. At Michigan, Harbaugh is 43-16 overall, including a 3-2 record this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Rumors: Gase, Harbaugh, McCarthy

The Jets’ coaching search technically started with the firing of Todd Bowles on Dec. 30, but they were mulling their options much earlier than that, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY hears. Although Bowles had a contract through the 2020 season, the Jets started doing their homework in mid-November after an embarrassing 41-10 home loss to the Bills.

Despite their denials, the Jets had early interest in Jim Harbaugh, Vacchiano hears. The Jets did background work on the Michigan head coach, but ultimately concluded that he wasn’t the right fit, possibly due to his desire for too much power, too much money, or a lack of desire to leave Ann Arbor.

Here’s more on how the Jets’ coaching search unfolded, plus other news out of New York/New Jersey:

  • The Jets started asking around about Mike McCarthy after he was fired by the Packers in December, but they were concerned about his sensitivity to criticism and how it might be amplified by the New York press, Vacchiano hears. There were also reports that McCarthy would consider sitting out the 2019 season, which may have given the Jets additional pause. McCarthy’s interview was not bad, per se, but Vacchiano hears that he did not hit it out of the park.
  • Adam Gase, on the other hand, leaped over McCarthy with a strong interview in which he displayed the energetic personality that the Jets wanted. Even though Gase went 23-25 in three years with the Dolphins, the Jets did not forget about his reputation as a hot offensive assistant just three years ago, Vacchiano writes.
  • New Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has agreed to a three-year deal with the club, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Before the Jets hired him, the Redskins made a push to land him as their DC.

Latest On Adam Gase, Dolphins

We have heard some conflicting reports about Dolphins head coach Adam Gase‘s future with the club over the course of the last week or so. On December 26, we heard that Gase is expected to remain in Miami in 2019, but just yesterday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that owner Stephen Ross is definitely considering moving on from Gase.

Today, Rapoport reiterated that Gase could indeed be coaching his last game with the Dolphins this afternoon (video link). But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that both Gase and GM Chris Grier are likely to be retained. And, while it has been expected that the club would at least move on from vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, JLC suggests that Tannenbaum could simply be given another role within the organization.

Grier has been with the Dolphins since 2000, and while he holds the GM title, he does not have final authority over football decisions. La Canfora indicates that Grier’s voice could be afforded greater weight in 2019, as owner Stephen Ross has long been fond of him, and if Tannenbaum is fired or moved, Grier may not have a personnel executive above him. After all, since Gase is the one who has final say over the 53-man roster, it seems unlikely that the Dolphins could keep Gase and attract a high-level executive from another club (like Vikings assistant GM George Paton), so Gase and Grier could be calling the shots next season. The two men reportedly work well together.

The lack of top-tier coaching talent in this year’s cycle is one reason why Gase could stay, along with the fact that Gase has done a reasonably good job considering what he’s had to work with. La Canfora writes that Ross remains high on University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh — despite Ross’ public remarks that he would not pursue Harbaugh — and while Harbaugh is expected to stay in Ann Arbor next year, sources close to him believe he will return to the NFL at some point. If that happens, Ross will be interested.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Harbaugh, Drake, Dolphins, Patriots, Hogan

There’s been a lot of talk about Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL lately, with his name recently being linked to the Jets’ job. While Harbaugh has said he wants to stay at Michigan and Jets CEO Christopher Johnson denied the reports today, it still seems like a definite possibility. It’s the type of high profile job that could lure Harbaugh away, and it’s a relatively attractive landing spot with Sam Darnold entrenched as the quarterback of the future. While Harbaugh is generally very highly regarded as a coach, the Jets should be very wary of bringing him in, opines Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.

Vacchiano writes that Harbaugh is the “biggest risk” of any of this year’s head coaching candidates, and that his tenure in San Francisco was “tumultuous.” He notes that those around the 49ers organization considered Harbaugh “toxic and unbearable”, and Vacchiano is skeptical Harbaugh could get along with the Jets’ front office. With Todd Bowles a near lock to be fired next Monday, we should know a lot more about New York’s intentions soon.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Kenyan Drake has grown a bit disgruntled with his role for the Dolphins, and wouldn’t say whether he wants to be back in Miami next year, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. Drake is a very talented running back and leads the Dolphins in yards from scrimmage this year, but the coaching staff has never used him consistently. Even with the injury to Frank Gore, his role has still decreased recently, and he got only six carries in the team’s loss to the Jaguars this past Sunday. With Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase’s futures both increasingly uncertain, it’s looking like an offseason of change is coming for the Dolphins. The team is likely to look completely different in 2019, and Drake might not be a part of things even though he has one year left on his rookie contract.
  • Speaking of players frustrated with their playing time, Patriots receiver Chris Hogan downplayed any internal strife and said he isn’t upset about his lack of involvement in the offense, according to Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Hogan played the vast majority of snaps in the team’s win over the Bills in Week 16, but he wasn’t targeted in the game and was reportedly seen slamming his helmet in frustration during the game. He also sat away from his fellow receivers and over on the defensive side of the bench, but insisted that everybody is on the same page. Hogan’s production has varied as he’s been featured heavily one week and absent the next, but he was expected to take on a more prominent role with Josh Gordon‘s departure, although that didn’t materialize against Buffalo.
  • While Bowles is almost certain to be fired on Black Monday following the Week 17 games, the embattled head coach is insisting he isn’t worried about his job security, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. Bowles said he had no reaction to the rumors about Harbaugh, and wouldn’t address questions about his job. After four years of leading the Jets, a new era is right around the corner in New York.

Dolphins Will Not Pursue Jim Harbaugh

A report linking another AFC East team to a Jim Harbaugh pursuit emerged, and a second NFL owner is denying that is the case.

Like Jets chairman Christopher Johnson, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross publicly shot down Harbaugh rumors. Ross told the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson he will not make a push for Harbaugh to replace Adam Gase, who is not a certainty to be fired after this season. Ross is a Michigan alum and would prefer Harbaugh stay in Ann Arbor, per Jackson (Twitter link).

This does not, however, mean Gase is safe. The Dolphins are exploring big-picture changes, with those in power attempting to solidify their positions in the event Ross restructures the franchise’s decision-making hierarchy. Another season featuring Gase and executive VP Mike Tannenbaum working together would surprise SI.com’s Albert Breer, who adds Miami is likely to make a change “at some level.”

While it’s not certain which way Ross is leaning here, Breer adds that GM Chris Grier would have a better chance of staying if Gase is retained. Grier has been with the Dolphins since 2000.

As for Gase, the third-year HC said he will not lobby to keep his job. Gase and Ross have not discussed his future, per Jackson. Las Vegas had the Dolphins pegged as a frontrunner for the 2019 No. 1 pick at this season’s outset, but Gase has the team at 7-8. He ended the Dolphins’ lengthy playoff drought in 2016 but has a sub-.500 record since, though many of those games did not feature Ryan Tannehill.

Latest On Jets, Jim Harbaugh

The Jets are expected to fire Todd Bowles in less than a week, and they may well be going after an impact replacement in Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.

Responding to the Pro Football Talk report, Jets chairman Christopher Johnson denied the organization has any interest in Harbaugh (Twitter link). Johnson said Bowles is the team’s head coach. Although, this does not indicate Bowles will be the team’s head coach in 2019. PFT stands by its report connecting the Jets and Harbaugh (via Twitter).

If the Jets are able to pull off this coup, Mike Maccagnan would be on board, Florio notes. Of course, with the fourth-year GM’s job not exactly stable, he may not be in a position to provide strong resistance here. Frequent tension surfaced between Harbaugh and former 49ers GM Trent Baalke, and that divorce pushed that franchise into a rebuild.

While the Jets are denying this, doing so after Harbaugh said earlier this month he was staying at Michigan, there figures to be more news coming on this front. It’s possible the Jets looked into Harbaugh and learned he was not going to be available, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini tweets. Harbaugh has not addressed the Jets rumors.

Harbaugh led the 49ers to three straight NFC championship games in his first three years as their head coach. The Jets are reportedly willing to give him a raise from his $7MM Michigan salary, as he will almost certainly be the highest-profile name involved in this coaching search.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Eyeing Jim Harbaugh For Head Coach

We heard last week that one unknown team was planning to make a run at Jim Harbaugh at the end of the season. Well, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reports that the mystery team is the New York Jets.

The organization is planning to offer the Michigan head coach a lucrative contract. As Florio points out, that offer would be in excess of the $7MM salary that Harbaugh is currently earning at Michigan. The organization started planning their pursuit a month ago, and the front office is hoping they’ll be able to land an interview. For what it’s worth, Harbaugh previously said that he doesn’t have any plans to leave his current gig at Michigan.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying at Michigan,” Harbaugh said earlier this month. “We have big plans here, and there’s a lot we want to accomplish.”

Harbaugh had a memorable four-year run with the 49ers, where he compiled a 44-19-1 record. San Francisco made the playoffs three times during his tenure, and they won the NFC in 2012. The 55-year-old was hired by Michigan in 2015, and he’s proceeded to lead his team to a 38-13 record over the past four years. The head coach has continued to reiterate that he has no intention to leave Ann Arbor.

While the Jets are expected to move on from head coach Todd Bowles, it’s uncertain if they’re going to retain general manager Mike Maccagnan. While Maccagnan may be the one campaigning for a Harbaugh hire, Florio points out that the coach may want full roster control if he were to take the Jets gig.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Team Interested In Jim Harbaugh

Could we see Jim Harbaugh back on the NFL sidelines in 2019? At least one team hopes that will be the case, according to a league source who spoke with Mike Florio of PFT.

[RELATED: Harbaugh Denies NFL Interest]

One unknown club is planning to make a run at the Michigan head coach after the season is through, Florio hears. It’s unclear whether he’ll bite, and for what it’s worth, he has denied any interest in leaving Ann Arbor for the professional ranks.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying at Michigan,” Harbaugh said in early December, adding that he believes the rumors are part of an outside effort to undermine Michigan’s recruiting. “We have big plans here, and there’s a lot we want to accomplish.”

Harbaugh parted ways with the 49ers after the 2014 season, marking the end of a four-year run. He’s also at the four-year mark at Michigan, which is a recurring number in his career. Harbaugh spent just four years each with the Raiders, the University of San Diego, Stanford, and the Niners, so it’s fair to wonder if he’s getting the itch to move yet again.

The No. 7 ranked Wolverines will face Florida in the Peach Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 29.

Jim Harbaugh Refutes Reported Interest In NFL Jobs

We heard earlier today that current Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will be a sought-after candidate for other head coaching jobs around the league regardless of whether Baltimore fires him. His brother, Jim Harbaugh, is certainly no stranger to those rumors, as the 44-19-1 record that he compiled during his four-year run with the 49ers make him at least worthy of consideration for other NFL clubs.

Jim, who has served as the head coach at the University of Michigan for the last four seasons, has been speculatively linked to a number of prospective NFL openings once again. But as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes, Harbaugh has unequivocally shot down such speculation. Harbaugh said, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying at Michigan. We have big plans here, and there’s a lot we want to accomplish.”

Harbaugh added that he has not spoken with any NFL teams, and he believes the reports connecting him to professional jobs are spread by those who wish to undermine his recruiting efforts with the Wolverines. He said, “[t]his is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day. It’s people spreading messages to further their own personal agenda.” Harbaugh appears to be specifically referring to Cris Carter, an Ohio State alumnus who, despite his work as a national sports commentator, remains tied to the Buckeyes program. Carter recently suggested that Harbaugh could be trying to get back into the NFL, and he named the Packers and Browns as potential fits.

Harbaugh has put together a 38-13 record with the Wolverines, who finished the 2018 season as the No. 7 team in the country and who will take on No. 10 Florida in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the end of December. Assuming he does stay at Michigan in 2019, it would mark the first time he has held a head coaching position at any level for more than four seasons.

He does have a reputation for being difficult to work with, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has suggested that John is seen as a much more desirable candidate in NFL coaching circles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Sherman, Bortles, Lincoln Riley, Ravens

It won’t be this year or the next, but at some point before he calls it quits on a likely Hall of Fame career, cornerback Richard Sherman is likely to make the move to safety, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch writes.

The four-time First Team All-Pro selection is open to it at least, saying:

“It’s definitely something that I’ve looked at,” Sherman said. “And something that I’ve talked with (Charles Woodson) about.”

In the first of a three-year deal with the 49ers, Sherman still rates as an above average cornerback according to Pro Football Focus. Now in his 30s, however, the star defender is already looking to make a similar move that prolonged the careers of Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson and Aeneas Williams. Despite the move, don’t expect him to play into his late 30s.

“I think 35 is probably my cutoff,” Sherman said. “I don’t think I want to play … they’d have a hard time getting me out of bed at 35 to go play. I think I’ve got four or five more (years) in me.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • After his benching, Blake Bortles is unlikely to be back with the Jaguars next season, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. With $6.5MM of Bortles’ $16.5MM contract next season guaranteed, the Jaguars can hope that some team signs him for $6.5MM — unlikely — or package him in a trade with a team that would be considering signing him, a la Brock Osweiler. The Jaguars will still have a cap charge of $10MM, but the team can push $5MM of that into 2020.
  • The Ravens did not activate cornerback Jaylen Hill from the PUP list, officially ending his season. Recovering from a torn ACL and MCL, Hill was unlikely to take the field after recently suffering a setback.
  • With the college game becoming more intertwined with the professional ranks, Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports listed 10 college coaches who could make the jump to the NFL. To no one’s surprise, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley was at the top of the heap thanks to his high-powered offense that produced a Heisman Trophy winner in Baker Mayfield, and potentially another in Kyler Murray. Other notable names on the list include Stanford’s David Shaw, former 49ers coach and current Michigan man Jim Harbaugh and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.