John Harbaugh

AFC North Notes: Jackson, Steelers, Bengals

The RavensLamar Jackson interest began before his junior year at Louisville. It escalated a few weeks before the 2018 draft. During a disagreement among Ravens staffers regarding quarterback preferences going into a draft that would have five QBs taken in the first round, John Harbaugh pronounced his willingness to build a new offense around the dual-threat passer.

If we draft Lamar, I’m good with that,” Harbaugh said during an hours-long discussion about Jackson (via The Athletic’s Dan Pompei, subscription required). “We can build an offense around him. We’ll play great special teams, great defense and be a ball-control offense. We’ll build a big, physical offensive line. We’ll get physical running backs. We’ll block on the perimeter. We’ll run all the elements of the college offense. We’ll do something different.”

After choosing Jackson, the Ravens rode some of Greg Roman‘s Colin Kaepernick-based concepts to a division title. Harbaugh, Roman and then-OC Marty Mornhinweg considered going back to Joe Flacco when the Ravens’ offense stalled for much of their wild-card loss to the Chargers, but each of Harbaugh’s assistants agreed Jackson gave the team the best chance to win. As for the Ravens’ 2019 offense, it will feature similar run designs to what was used last season. But Pompei adds the passing attack was considerably revamped in the offseason.

I expect this to change the way offensive football is played in the National Football League,” Harbaugh said. “Not that everybody is going to take on this style. But I expect us to create something that hasn’t been seen before. … I think we’re going to be in more elements than any team has ever been.”

Here is the latest from the AFC North, shifting first to Pittsburgh:

  • This weekend, Artie Burns is due an $800K bonus. If the Steelers are to move on from the former first-round pick who has not lived up to that billing, they would stand to limit their losses by doing so soon. Burns’ camp, however, is confident the fourth-year corner will still be a Steeler by week’s end, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Pittsburgh still has Joe Haden and Mike Hilton and added UFA addition Steven Nelson and third-round pick Justin Layne.
  • A hamstring injury will move T.J. Watt to the Steelers’ active/PUP list, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. The Pro Bowl outside linebacker should be expected to return fairly soon.
  • The Bengals placed Darqueze Dennard and running back Rodney Anderson on their active/PUP list. Dennard underwent offseason knee surgery, while Anderson’s college career ended after an ACL tear. The former Oklahoma running back is a candidate for the reserve/PUP list to start the season, per Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Should Anderson stay on the PUP list to start the season, he must remain there for six regular-season weeks.

John Harbaugh’s Role Won’t Change With New GM

It was rumored that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh wanted to have final say on personnel decisions with the team moving from Ozzie Newsome to Eric DeCosta as general manager in 2019. The coach dispelled those rumors, however, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley tweets

“It works the same way, except now Eric is in the seat. Eric is the decision-maker, and he’ll be the guy making that final call, and he’ll also be the guy that will be building from the ground up.”

It took a few days to announce Harbaugh’s new contract, leading some to think the team’s longtime head coach was searching for more of a say in the team’s front office. However, he is not starting from scratch with DeCosta. The two have been in the organization since Harbaugh arrived, with DeCosta even beginning his tenure with the team in 1996. Though he won’t have “final say,” Harbaugh harped on the organization’s excellent communication.

“This is an organization that works together. We cross paths and we talk everything out – football, scouting, medical, weight strength and conditioning, everything you can think of. To me, it doesn’t matter who has what say over what. It’s never been about that here.”

Earlier in the week, Harbaugh signed a four-year extension that will keep him in Baltimore through the 2019 campaign. Before putting ink to paper, the longtime coach had one year remaining on his deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens, John Harbaugh Agree To Extension

John Harbaugh‘s new deal is finally done. On Thursday, the Ravens announced the signing of a fresh contract for their head coach. It’s a four-year extension that will take him through the 2023 season.

Harbaugh and the Ravens began discussing an extension early in January, but things took a bit of time to come together. Ultimately, the two sides were able to hash things out after a few weeks. Terms of the deal are not yet known, but it’s likely that the new deal will position him as one of the highest paid head coaches in the NFL.

In this cycle, multiple teams were said to be mulling trades for Harbaugh that probably would have called for the forfeiture of draft compensation. The Buccaneers and Dolphins gave it real thought, but they wound up hiring Bruce Arians and Brian Flores, respectively.

Harbaugh, 56, is 114-77 for his career and ranks fifth in wins among active coaches. Three straight Ravens playoff absences — and a 40-40 record from 2013-17 — moved him close to the chopping block, but the switch to Jackson (and Baltimore’s defense returning to elite status) transformed a 4-5 team to a 10-6 division champion. This past season marked the Ravens’ seventh playoff appearance under Harbaugh.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Ravens, Harbaugh, Titans

We heard yesterday that the Ravens were close to extending John Harbaugh after all. After a lot of buzz that Harbaugh might not be looking to sign an extension and instead play out his contract and test the open market, it looks like Harbaugh will indeed commit to Baltimore longterm. Extension talks were “accelerated during Ravens high-level annual organizational retreat Thursday and Friday with owner Steve Bisciotti”, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN (Twitter link). Mortensen notes that discussions took place during the retreat about a potential trade of Joe Flacco and how best to develop Lamar Jackson. It should be a busy offseason in Baltimore, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can get something of value for Flacco on the trade market.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • There’s only a couple of weeks until the offseason really gets underway, and we should start seeing a ton of free agency talk soon. With that in mind, ESPN NFL Nation reporters took a look at every team’s biggest upcoming free agency decision. The whole piece is worth a read, with a lot of insightful analysis about some of the biggest names to keep an eye on this March. DeMarcus Lawrence, Clay Matthews, and Anthony Barr are some of the situations that get discussed.
  • The Titans’ defense looked really solid at times this season, but could use some extra pass-rushers, according to Jim Wyatt of the team’s official site. Wyatt feels “certain” that the Titans will add outside linebacker help this offseason. Wyatt notes that with Brian Orakpo retiring and Derrick Morgan not a lock to be brought back next year, Mike Vrabel’s unit will need some reinforcements at outside linebacker.
  • In case you missed it, the Eagles are refusing to disclose details about Carson Wentz‘s injury.

Ravens, John Harbaugh Close On Extension

John Harbaugh‘s shift from lame-duck status back to long-term security with the Ravens is nearing completion. The Ravens and their longtime coach have an agreement in principle on an extension, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

One year remains on Harbaugh’s current deal. This new agreement is not yet finalized, with CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweeting key issues remain unresolved. While an extension is expected to be completed, JLC notes it is not done. Although, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com describes the road left to go as procedural (Twitter link).

Talks Harbaugh was set to be fired preceded trade rumors surrounding Baltimore’s 11-season leader, but the Ravens turning their season around and winning their first AFC North title since 2012 helped Harbaugh re-establish himself. The parties began extension talks earlier this month. He will be in charge of the full Joe Flacco-to-Lamar Jackson transition.

The Broncos, Buccaneers and Dolphins were loosely linked to Harbaugh as trade suitors. Each either hired coaches or have identified a future HC. Harbaugh may well have been the top candidate on this year’s market had the Ravens allowed it. Baltimore’s transition from Ozzie Newsome, who hired Harbaugh in 2008, to Eric DeCosta will not feature a major sideline shakeup. The new GM evidently saw enough from the franchise’s winningest coach to begin his tenure tethered to him.

Harbaugh, 56, is 114-77 and ranks fifth in wins among active coaches. Three straight Ravens playoff absences — and a 40-40 record from 2013-17 — moved him close to the chopping block, but the switch to Jackson (and Baltimore’s defense returning to elite status) transformed a 4-5 team to a 10-6 division champion. This marked the Ravens’ seventh playoff appearance under Harbaugh.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens, John Harbaugh Working On Extension

Maybe John Harbaugh is staying put after all. The Ravens are making progress on extension talks with their head coach, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Nothing is done yet, but both sides are encouraged by where things stand at the moment. 

[RELATED: PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Despite a group of quality free agent coaches and available coordinators, multiple teams have considered the possibility of trading for Harbaugh. The Buccaneers and Dolphins are seriously mulling the idea of forfeiting draft compensation for the one-time Super Bowl winning coach, but they’ll have to concentrate on their other targets instead if Harbaugh re-ups in Baltimore.

Right now, it sounds as though Harbaugh and the Ravens will spend a 12th year together. Through eleven seasons, Harbaugh owns a 104-72 record (.591) as the Ravens’ head coach with seven playoff appearances.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

John Harbaugh: “Joe’s Going To Have A Market”

It sounds like Joe Flacco‘s tenure with Baltimore may be coming to an end, but head coach John Harbaugh is still a big fan of his long-time quarterback. Following today’s season-ending loss to the Chargers, Harbaugh said the veteran quarterback should have plenty of suitors during the offseason.

“Joe Flacco is going to play really well in this league. Joe can still play — I think we saw that the first half of the season,” Harbaugh said (via Cindy Boren of the Washington Post). “Joe’s going to have a market. There’s going to be a lot of teams that are going to want Joe because they understand that. I’ll be in Joe’s corner wherever he’s at. He’s special. Joe Flacco is a great talent; he’s an even better person. He’s the best QB in the history of the Ravens without question…He’s going to do just fine.”

Harbaugh all but said that Flacco won’t be in Baltimore next season, although this isn’t much of a surprise. It was clear that the veteran’s tenure with the organization was coming to an end when they decided to stick with rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson following Flacco’s return from a hip injury.

A report from mid-December indicated that the organization would ultimately either cut or trade the 33-year-old. This offseason marks the first time the Ravens can cut ties with Flacco and save money against the salary cap, although reports have indicated that the front office could help move the veteran to a franchise of his choice.

Flacco was still more-than-serviceable in his nine games this season. The veteran signal-caller completed 61.2-percent of his passes for 2,465 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Jackson struggled during today’s loss, and Harbaugh admitted that they considered inserting Flacco into the lineup. Ultimately, the veteran didn’t see the field for what will likely be his final game with the franchise.

If this is indeed the end of Flacco’s tenure in Baltimore, the veteran will finish his stint sitting in first for the majority of the team’s all-time passing stats. The 2008 first-round pick even ranks 15th in franchise history in rushing yards, which only accentuates his all-time value to the franchise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Interested In John Harbaugh?

The Buccaneers are the second NFL team — along with the previously-reported Dolphins — which has mulled a trade for Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

Harbaugh, whose contract expires after the 2019 campaign, hasn’t conduced any substantive extension discussions with Baltimore, but reports have indicated he’s still likely to return as the Ravens’ coach next season. However, La Canfora reports many around the NFL feel clubs are “slow-playing” their head coaching searches with the hope that Harbaugh will somehow become available.

The Ravens also need to determine how their new front office and coaching hierarchy will be structured, per La Canfora. Harbaugh has long reported to general manager Ozzie Newsome, but it’s unclear if that setup will continue once new GM Eric DeCosta formally takes over. Therefore, other teams could potentially lure Harbaugh with the idea that he’d report directly to a franchise owner, rather than a personnel executive.

Tampa Bay, for its part, has thus far interviewed four coaches for its vacancy: former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard, and Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards. Arians is currently viewed as the favorite for the position, but the potential availability of Harbaugh could shake up the Buccaneers’ search.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

John Harbaugh Likely To Remain With Ravens In 2019

The Ravens’ announcement that they would retain head coach John Harbaugh in 2019 has not done much to quiet speculation concerning Harbaugh’s future in Baltimore. Indeed, we recently heard that the Dolphins are mulling a trade offer for Harbaugh, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning that two teams are considering such an offer (presumably, the Dolphins are one of them). The fact that Harbaugh and the Ravens have not engaged in substantive extension talks, coupled with the fact that Harbaugh’s current contract only keeps him under club control through 2019, has kept the rumor mill churning.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that Baltimore brass did speak with Harbaugh’s agent last Monday, but no real progress was made. Nonetheless, the Ravens want Harbaugh to return in 2019, and Harbaugh — despite speculation to the contrary — is perfectly content to head into next year without an extension.

Harbaugh wants to return to the Ravens and has no intention of forcing his way out. Plus, Rapoport says that Harbaugh does not really want to be traded, because he does not want the team that would acquire him to be weakened by having to send draft compensation to Baltimore. So as of right now, it sounds as though Harbaugh and the Ravens will spend a 12th year together.

Meanwhile, Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator, Don Martindale, has generated some head coaching buzz for the work he has done with the Ravens’ defense this year, though we have not heard of any interview requests for him. Per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (via Twitter), Martindale does want to be a head coach at some point, but he is also happy to remain in Baltimore as Harbaugh’s DC as long as Harbaugh wants him to.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Ravens, Cowboys, Rams, Bills, Falcons

We’ve been hearing mixed things about John Harbaugh for a while now. The Ravens announced they hope to keep the coach longterm with an extension, but rumors have continued to swirl that Harbaugh isn’t willing to commit to Baltimore and that he may want to explore his options elsewhere. Numerous teams have been reported to be interested in trading for the coach, including the Broncos and Dolphins.

We have a new update on Harbaugh today, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports the Ravens have “yet to have any dialogue” with Harbaugh about a new contract. La Canfora writes that the “situation is being watched closely” by other front offices, and that several teams still have hopes of trading for him after the year. If the Ravens have a quick playoff exit, it could increase the chances that the two sides part ways this offseason. It’ll be one of the biggest stories to monitor the next few weeks, and we should know a lot more after the team’s game against the Chargers tomorrow.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Cowboys have a bunch of young players they’ll need to pay soon, and Ezekiel Elliott would like to be first in line. The third year running back has one more year left on his deal after this season plus his 2020 fifth-year team option, but he’d like to be extended this offseason, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). While Rapsheet notes that it “makes sense given his workload”, it’s unclear at what price the team values him. We heard back in November that the team might not be in any rush to extend Elliott, so it will be very interesting to see what the team does here.
  • By gaining more than 1,200 rushing yards, Todd Gurley got a $1MM bonus this season, Rapoport tweets. It brings the total value of Gurley’s extension with the Rams to four years and $58.5MM. Gurley got off to a red hot start to the year and was on pace to break the single season touchdowns record for a while, and while he cooled off a little bit during the second half of the season, he still had another dominant year. He’s been dealing with some knee soreness recently, but should be a full go for the Rams’ playoff run.
  • We also got details on Matt Barkley‘s recent extension with the Bills, that Mike Rodak of ESPN tweeted out. Barkley’s two year deal will pay him $1.25MM in 2019 and $1.5MM in 2020. Interestingly, Rodak notes that the team gave Barkley a $600K signing bonus. Getting that large of an amount of guaranteed money would suggest he has a significant leg up on Derek Anderson in the race to be Josh Allen‘s backup next year. Buffalo signed Anderson to a one year deal earlier this week. The deal also includes active roster and playing time bonuses for Barkley, who showed very well in his one spot start this season.
  • Locking defensive tackle Grady Jarrett up longterm is a priority for the Falcons this offseason, according to GM Thomas Dimitroff, per Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com. “We would like to have Grady back for many years to come”, Dimitroff said. Jarrett was one of the few bright spots on a Falcons defense that regressed mightily this season, and he received elite grades from Pro Football Focus. Jarrett, a fifth round pick in 2015, is set to be a free agent this offseason and should be in for a huge payday.