Jim Harbaugh

Poll: Which Team Made Best HC Hire?

This year’s HC cycle became the rare carousel to generate more attention around the coaches who did not land jobs than the ones hired. Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel being left out will assuredly generate stories ahead of the 2025 hiring period, and it will be worth monitoring if Pete Carroll is connected to another coaching job.

But eight teams — up from five in 2023 — made the decision to change coaches. Dan Quinn‘s hire filled the final vacancy. While the Commanders’ process generated extensive fallout, teams are now moving forward with staff assembly following their HC hires.

The Commanders look to have gone through a bit of back-and-forth about their interest in Lions OC Ben Johnson. Pushing back on the notion the two-year Detroit play-caller was their top choice all along, Washington will give Quinn a second chance. But the former Dallas DC may well have been Washington’s third choice; the team made an aggressive push to land Mike Macdonald as well. The Seahawks finished that 11th-hour competition by giving the young Ravens DC a six-year deal.

Only Seattle and Washington waited until after the conference championship games to hire their coaches. Macdonald, who is half Carroll’s age, becomes the NFL’s youngest HC (36). (New Patriots leader Jerod Mayo, 37, held that title for several days.) A Ravens defense that carried major questions in the pass-rushing department led the NFL in sacks while leading the league in scoring defense as well. Quinn re-established his value over three years in Dallas, restoring that unit as one of the game’s best. While Quinn has the Super Bowl LI collapse on his resume and went 0-for-3 in playoff berths over his final three seasons in Atlanta, Washington’s new ownership group will bet on the experienced staffer.

Although the Commanders’ search produced a number of headlines, the Falcons introduced this year’s top “what if?” storyline. The only team serious about hiring Belichick, interviewing him twice, the Falcons steered clear of the six-time Super Bowl-winning HC. While Arthur Blank went into the hiring period prepared to hire the 24-year Patriots leader, it appears other Falcons higher-ups — in an effort potentially connected to their own statuses — helped sway the owner toward the Raheem Morris hire.

Morris, whom Falcons CEO Rich McKay hired during his time as Bucs GM in the early 2000s, will make the historically rare move of returning to coach a team years after operating as its interim HC. Morris left Atlanta on good terms in 2021 and comes back after a successful run as the Rams’ DC. Though, Belichick will undoubtedly be tied to Morris during the latter’s second Atlanta stay.

It took a six-year contract for the Panthers to bring in Bucs OC Dave Canales, who parlayed his first coordinator season into a head coaching gig. The Panthers trading the No. 1 overall pick and David Tepper‘s reputation as an impulsive meddler played into Carolina’s search, but the team had long been connected — despite Frank Reich‘s struggles — to pursuing an offense-oriented leader. Carolina also pursued Johnson for a second year but did not wait to make an attempt to interview him in-person. Following his work with Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield, Canales will be charged with developing Bryce Young.

The Titans also went offense with their hire, adding five-year Bengals non-play-calling OC Brian Callahan to succeed Vrabel. Zac Taylor‘s longtime lieutenant probably would have landed a job earlier had he called plays in a Joe Burrow-piloted offense, but the Titans will turn to the 39-year-old candidate to develop Will Levis. Brian Callahan will also technically oversee his father this coming season, hiring well-regarded Browns O-line coach Bill Callahan to the same position. This will be the Callahans’ first time on the same staff.

Las Vegas and New England each went with in-house solutions. The Raiders became the first team in seven years to elevate an interim HC to the full-time position. Mark Davis listened to his players, after expressing regret about not removing Rich Bisaccia‘s interim tag in 2022. But the second-generation owner also passed on interviewing other viable candidates for the job, only going through with required interviews to comply with the Rooney Rule. While Pierce accounted himself well as a leader during the season’s second half, his experience level is quite thin compared to just about every other HC hire in modern NFL history.

Using a Rooney Rule workaround by including language in Mayo’s contract about succeeding Belichick, the Patriots also passed on a true search. Robert Kraft intervened last year, extending Mayo after the Panthers had sought a meeting, and will give the keys to the recent Patriots linebacker. Mayo’s time in coaching does not match Pierce’s, though the former has spent more time as an NFL assistant. The franchise is largely keeping the Patriot Way going, promoting from within to fill the HC position and elevating an in-house staffer (Eliot Wolf) to fill the de facto GM post, only with Belichick no longer involved.

The highest-profile hire came out of Los Angeles. The Chargers became the team to lure Jim Harbaugh back to the pros. The Bolts gave the accomplished HC a $16MM salary — over five years — and signed off on allowing final say. Harbaugh has won everywhere he has been and held leverage in the form of another Michigan extension offer and a second Falcons interview being scheduled. The Bolts did not let him leave for that meeting and gave Harbaugh significant input into Tom Telesco‘s GM replacement (Joe Hortiz). Harbaugh’s final NFL snaps came with the Chargers, and after hiring three first-time HCs under Telesco, the team will make a bigger bet to turn things around.

Which team ended up doing the best with its 2024 hire? Why did Belichick fail to land a job? Will he and Vrabel be back in 2025? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this year’s HC market in the comments.

2024 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

The Commanders’ hire has wrapped this year’s cycle. Barring a team making an 11th-hour change, the 2024 HC carousel has come to a stop. The final breakdown produced five defensive coaches being hired compared to three with backgrounds on offense. Many teams are still searching for offensive and defensive coordinators, however.

Updated 2-1-24 (10:37am CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

  • Jerod Mayo, linebackers coach (Patriots): Hired

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Jim Harbaugh To Earn $16MM Per Year; Chargers Had Mike Vrabel As Second Choice?

After their round of rookie head coaches failed to produce a consistent winner, the Chargers are giving the keys to Jim Harbaugh. The longtime Michigan HC is expected to have final roster say over new GM Joe Hortiz. As expected, a lucrative contract comes with this job.

A report just before Harbaugh agreed to terms with the Bolts indicated the team would not quite meet his initial asking price, which was believed to be in the $18MM-per-year range — a salary Sean Payton is believed to have secured from the Broncos. But the Chargers will pay their new head coach in the same NFL tax bracket, with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio indicating Harbaugh secured a $16MM salary. On a five-year deal, Harbaugh has locked in $80MM.

Coaching salaries remain a mysterious topic in the NFL, since they do not have to be disclosed like player contracts do. No salary cap exists for coaching deals, giving the wealthier owners an advantage in terms of wooing top-tier options. The Chargers do not fall into that category and have been regularly labeled as frugal. This perception affected the organization during its most recent search, but the team that serves as the Rams’ tenant at SoFi Stadium cannot be accused of being cheap this time around.

Michigan is believed to have offered Harbaugh a 10-year deal worth $125MM, but language regarding a potential NCAA suspension and how the Wolverines planned to handle their HC’s annual NFL flirtations complicated matters. The 60-year-old coach came into Chargers negotiations with that as leverage, along with the Falcons’ interest. Harbaugh had scheduled a second Falcons meeting, but amid negotiations with the Bolts, the veteran HC tabled that Atlanta trip.

While this coaching salary is not top-of-the-line money, it is in the upper echelon. To illustrate how much the NFL has changed financially, Harbaugh was tied to a $3.25MM base salary when the Ravens traded him to San Diego in 1999.

Harbaugh will now go about his latest attempt to elevate a team, having done so everywhere he has been previously. Given the value a good head coach provides, $16MM is a relative bargain on an uncapped market. Had Harbaugh boarded the plane to follow through with his second Falcons meeting, however, the Chargers may have needed to go to one of their backup plans. The silver medalist in this race is unlikely to land a coaching job this year.

Had Harbaugh not committed to the Chargers during his second interview, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said during a Pat McAfee Show appearance Mike Vrabel was likely positioned as the team’s second choice. Vrabel interviewed with the Chargers, Falcons and Panthers during this cycle. It has been rather surprising to see the well-regarded HC drift off the radar during this cycle, especially considering the trade rumors that followed him during his final weeks with the Titans. With the Commanders not expected to include him in any course change, Vrabel would be forced to take an assistant job or spend the season out of the NFL.

Vrabel, 48, has coached in the NFL since 2014, serving as the Texans’ defensive coordinator after a three-year run as linebackers coach under Bill O’Brien. Despite Houston’s defense not playing particularly well under then-DC Vrabel in 2017, the assistant wowed Tennessee brass in his HC interview and became a successful HC. He guided the Titans to three straight playoff berths and signed an extension early during the 2022 offseason. Clashes with ownership following GM Jon Robinson‘s ouster led Vrabel out of Nashville.

Vrabel has experience coaching at the college level as well, beginning his coaching career with three seasons on Urban Meyer‘s Ohio State staff. It remains to be seen if Vrabel would consider a college gig again, but it appears the six-year Titans HC will not be leading an NFL team in 2024.

Chargers Fallout: Harbaugh, Hortiz, Herbert, Staff, Minter, Michigan, Falcons

Although the Chargers reside in a different city than they did during Jim Harbaugh‘s time with the team as a quarterback, he will reunite with the organization that once gave him an opportunity as his career wound down. It took a big salary and appears to have brought considerable autonomy to complete this transaction.

Harbaugh signed a five-year contract, and Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz indicates the longtime Michigan HC is likely to have final say when it comes to personnel matters. Teams are often reluctant to provide this for head coaches, but Harbaugh brought leverage — due to the interest the Falcons showed and the offers Michigan made to keep him — that allowed him to maximize his position.

The Falcons had scheduled a second interview, but Harbaugh ended up postponing it. Harbaugh may or may not have intended to make that trip, but he used it during talks with the Chargers, who had long been the frontrunners in this race.

The Bolts did not give any of their Tom Telesco-era HCs final say, with the GM running the show. The team frequently struggled to turn Telesco’s well-regarded rosters into playoff berths, however, and Dean Spanos said ownership would spend time considering how it organized its power structure. It appears Harbaugh did enough to justify an HC-centric operation. Harbaugh, 60, also used president John Spanos‘ comments pushing back on the Chargers’ perceived frugality when it comes to HC spending to his advantage in negotiations, Schultz notes, adding the Chargers’ openness in giving such power to a head coach separated them during this year’s hiring period.

This contract is worth more than the $12.5MM-per-year deal Michigan is believed to have offered, and even if it falls short of the $18MM salary range Sean Payton established last year, Harbaugh will be given more control than any of the other HCs hired this year. The nine-year Wolverines HC appears prepared to bring his most recent DCJesse Minter — with him to Los Angeles, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes. Other staffers are likely to follow, per Schultz. Harbaugh made it a point during Bolts talks to mention bringing analytics staffers from Ann Arbor as well.

The power the Bolts are giving Harbaugh understandably gives him a considerable say in where the team’s GM search ends. This became a sticking point for Harbaugh, per Schultz. Given how his 49ers tenure concluded, it is logical this became a priority for the accomplished HC. Harbaugh’s feud with Trent Baalke and issues with 49ers ownership led him out the door after four years, bringing a steep freefall for the team before Kyle Shanahan — given a six-year contract due to what transpired in Baalke’s final years — began to pick up the pieces.

As for where the Bolts go at GM, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson indicates Ravens exec Joe Hortiz is considered the favorite by some around the league. Hortiz, the Ravens’ director of player personnel, has extensive ties to the Harbaugh family and has been in Baltimore for nearly the franchise’s entire existence. This would stand to better prepare him for the potential challenge of working with Jim Harbaugh.

Hortiz has worked alongside John Harbaugh since the latter’s arrival in 2008 but has been with the Ravens since 1998. Prior to his 2019 promotion under GM Eric DeCosta, Hortiz spent 10 years as the team’s director of college scouting. Hortiz joins Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown as the only candidates the Chargers have brought in twice.

Unsurprisingly, Justin Herbert‘s status loomed as a Harbaugh draw. Many around the NFL pointed to Harbaugh showing interest in elevating Herbert — who supplies one of the top QB skillsets in the game today — after an inconsistent recent run, Fowler adds. Harbaugh worked wonders for Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and is coming off a run with J.J. McCarthy that ended in a convincing national championship result. Via the extension he inked last summer, Herbert is tied to the Chargers through the 2029 season. Only Patrick Mahomes‘ contract runs beyond that timeframe.

Stanford went 1-11 during its final pre-Harbaugh season; the Cardinal finished 12-1 in 2010, propelling Harbaugh to the 49ers. San Francisco had missed eight straight playoff fields prior to Harbaugh’s 2011 arrival; he moved the team to three consecutive NFC championship games. Harbaugh’s .695 win percentage is the best among NFL coaches who started their careers since the 1970 merger. While the former Chargers QB’s style may not be for everyone, the success he has achieved on the sideline convinced the Chargers to revamp their organization to bring him in.

Chargers Hire Jim Harbaugh As HC

Jim Harbaugh rearranged his interview schedule this week, and it turns out no more meetings will be in the cards. The Chargers will complete this long-rumored hire. The Bolts are set to name Harbaugh as their next head coach, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports.

The 60-year-old coach will return to the NFL after nine seasons at his alma mater. Harbaugh’s stock veered to a strange place, thanks to Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal last season, but his NFL value never appeared to take a substantial hit. On the heels of the Wolverines’ national championship, the former 49ers HC will pick the Chargers as his NFL return vehicle.

This comes nearly 24 years after the former quarterback took his final NFL snaps, which came as a member of the Chargers. Harbaugh agreed to a five-year contract Wednesday, Schefter reports. This nearly overlaps with the extension Justin Herbert signed last year; Herbert is signed through 2029.

After interviewing for the Vikings and Broncos’ jobs over the past two offseasons, respectively, Harbaugh reached an agreement to return to the NFL — a previously stated goal. His arrival will give the AFC West three coaches who have led teams to Super Bowls. Harbaugh will arrive as an Andy Reid challenger a year after Sean Payton did. While Payton was interested in this job as the 2022 season progressed, the Bolts held onto Brandon Staley for a third season. With the team moving on from Staley, it set out to land a higher-profile leader. Harbaugh checks that box, having been a winning coach everywhere he has been.

Upon firing Staley in mid-December, the Bolts sent out Harbaugh feelers. This process accelerated from there. Harbaugh also interviewed with the Falcons, but the sides’ second meeting — scheduled for today — did not come to pass. Atlanta will look elsewhere, while Harbaugh assembles a staff in Los Angeles. Long accused of skimping on their head coaches, the Chargers are believed to have upper-crust salary parameters in place with Harbaugh. Negotiations this week are believed to have produced a figure north of the $12.5MM-per-year offer Michigan made.

Harbaugh returns to the NFL as a historically successful coach, in terms of win percentage. While a Super Bowl title eluded Jim Harbaugh against his brother 11 years ago, the younger sibling’s .695 win percentage — compiled from 2011-14 in San Francisco — ranks fifth in NFL history. That number, however, leads all coaches who began their career after the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

The Chargers regularly assembled well-regarded rosters in recent years, but they have routinely fallen short of expectations. During Tom Telesco‘s GM run, the team went 3-for-11 in playoff appearances — these seasons all coming with Herbert or Philip Rivers at quarterback. Harbaugh guided the 49ers to three straight NFC championship games with Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick at the controls. Coaching Herbert naturally appealed to this year’s lot of coaching candidates, and Harbaugh’s work with Smith and Kaepernick effectively illustrates his coaching acumen. Ditto Michigan’s recent run, which includes three straight CFP appearances and a convincing win over Washington in this year’s title game.

Herbert’s presence and a return to California — where Harbaugh has coached in four cities in the college and pro ranks — provided a natural appeal. The Chargers making a much bigger financial commitment will as well. Harbaugh will follow first-timers Mike McCoy, Anthony Lynn and Staley, residing in a different stratosphere in terms of prestige. The Chargers joined the Raiders in expressing significant Harbaugh interest at the end of the regular season, but the Silver and Black did not opt to interview any of this year’s top candidates, instead elevating Antonio Pierce to the full-time post. This left the Chargers as the Harbaugh favorites, and the sides used this week’s second interview to discuss staffing.

Ex-49ers and Ravens OC Greg Roman has been mentioned as a candidate to rejoin Harbaugh, but no coordinators are in place yet. Neither is a GM. One finalist, Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown, has emerged. It was long assumed Harbaugh would want to handpick his GM, but that does not appear the case any longer. Although Harbaugh and ex-49ers GM Trent Baalke‘s feud is largely responsible for his 2015 San Francisco exit, the fiery HC is not believed to be strongarming the Chargers on this front. That said, the Bolts will assuredly hire a front office boss that Harbaugh approves.

Prior to Harbaugh’s 2011 San Francisco arrival, the 49ers had missed eight straight playoff brackets. Their stampede to three consecutive NFC title games included a comeback win over the Falcons in the 2012 conference decider, leading to a Super Bowl XLVII appearance that ended with the Harbaugh-Kaepernick operation on the doorstep of completing a historic rally. Herbert is more talented than either of the QBs Harbaugh worked with to reach that stage, setting the stage for one of the most interesting stretches in franchise history.

Harbaugh, whose two-year run as a Bolts quarterback transpired just before the team drafted Drew Brees, will have some other roster issues to address. Injuries have been a notorious issue for this franchise, with each of the team’s skill-position regulars sustaining notable setbacks over the past two seasons. Austin Ekeler is a free agent, while Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are each attached to $20MM-per-year deals. Allen will be 32 this year, while Williams (29) is coming off an ACL tear. The Bolts possess some pieces up front, headlined by Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater, and have both edge rushers (Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack) under contract for 2024. Bosa, however, is attached to a $27MM-AAV accord and has continually encountered injuries.

After restructuring Allen, Williams, Bosa and Mack’s contracts last year, the Chargers are projected to be more than $45MM over the 2024 cap. Only three teams are in worse situations presently. While the Bolts are hiring Harbaugh for the long haul, he is 60 and lasted only four years during his previous NFL run. The roster issues coming up will be pivotal, given Herbert’s presence and the $52.5MM-per-year contract to which he is tied.

Upon firing Staley, owner Dean Spanos said the team would make an effort to reimagine its operation. Team president John Spanos confirmed he has a regular role in football ops, having come up through the scouting ranks with the family-owned franchise. Harbaugh’s presence will likely come with more control than the Chargers have given to their previous coaches.

Considering Michigan’s effort to retain Harbaugh and the Falcons entering the pursuit, the veteran coach carried substantial leverage. As Big Ten fans will surely note, this NFL jump will also be a way for Harbaugh to evade an NCAA suspension for the above-referenced scandal. He served two three-game bans in 2023, for different infractions, but potentially faced more punishment. That topic came up during his recent Wolverines re-up talks.

Excluding Sid Gillman‘s AFL tenure, the Chargers have underachieved for most of their history. Air Coryell could not book them a Super Bowl berth. Neither could the Brees draft choice or the Rivers acquisition. Only a 1994 one-off did the trick. The franchise will entrust Herbert’s prime to Harbaugh, making for one of the most fascinating partnerships in recent NFL history.

Falcons Give Ejiro Evero Second HC Interview, Meeting With Mike Vrabel

As a Falcons-Jim Harbaugh partnership hit a notable snag today, the team is still going about its HC search. Ejiro Evero went through a second interview with the team Wednesday.

In addition to the Evero meeting, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero notes Mike Vrabel‘s rumored summit is scheduled for today. Word of the Vrabel Atlanta meeting surfaced just as the second Harbaugh interview did, but the former might be more attainable by comparison considering recent developments. This is Vrabel’s first interview for the Falcons’ job; the six-year Titans coach is in Atlanta for the meeting.

Harbaugh has been in serious talks with the Chargers about becoming their next head coach. This has led to Harbaugh’s second Falcons meeting — scheduled for today — being nixed. The sides have not shut down the prospect of rescheduling, but the Michigan HC calling off a scheduled interview does point to the Bolts buzz being legitimate.

Pelissero, however, indicates the Harbaugh meeting is now scheduled for Thursday. Though, that interview is being classified as tentatively slated to occur. Indeed, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini adds Harbaugh’s Falcons meeting could occur later this week if he decides to go through with it. Harbaugh is believed to have an agreement on his Chargers HC salary, though other matters are still being worked out. Even if that hire is imminent, the Falcons are conducting a widespread search.

The Falcons have interviewed 14 candidates, and although Bill Belichick was the first of those to meet with team brass twice, the longtime Patriots icon’s momentum for this job appears to have slowed. Others are being given second interviews, potentially reopening the race.

Evero is part of that contingent, with the Panthers’ defensive coordinator still possessing momentum despite a 2-15 Carolina season. Evero has managed to place himself as a fixture on two HC carousels despite both his past two teams — the Broncos and Panthers — struggling. Evero still elevated his candidacy considerably by keeping Denver’s 2022 defense afloat. Evero’s Carolina defense ranked 29th in points allowed but fourth in yardage, though DVOA slotted the Panthers’ defense 25th.

Evero is far from the only non-Belichick candidate to meet about this job twice. Connected to a wide-ranging search to replace Arthur Smith, the Falcons have now reached out to several options about second meetings. Via PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker, here is how this process stands Wednesday afternoon:

Falcons, Michigan Still In Play For Jim Harbaugh

12:22pm: The Atlanta meeting is on hold. Harbaugh will not go through with his second Falcons interview today, The Athletic’s Josh Kendall reports. The parties could circle back, but the postponing or canceling of an interview obviously does not bode too well for a Harbaugh path to Georgia.

11:27am: Harbaugh’s second Falcons interview is scheduled for today, according to Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz. The Michigan HC has spent the early part of his week in Los Angeles in serious discussions with the Chargers. Harbaugh trekking to Atlanta at this stage could certainly throw off Chargers talks, though he has been rather effective at maximizing his leverage in the recent past. A bidding war would do the trick. Schultz also confirms Michigan is not bowing out, making a continued push to retain the accomplished sideline bastion.

10:43am: As of Wednesday morning, the Chargers appear the favorites to employ Jim Harbaugh in 2024. But the two other teams interested in the national championship-winning head coach are not bowing out.

A return to Michigan remains in play for the nine-year Wolverines leader, according to the Washington Post’s Mark Maske. Harbaugh interviewed for NFL jobs in each of the previous two offseasons before ultimately staying at Michigan. The Big Ten program and its successful but polarizing HC have been in discussions on an extension for several weeks, but Harbaugh-Chargers talks have overshadowed Michigan negotiations.

[RELATED: 2024 Head Coaching Search Tracker]

The prospect of Harbaugh again backtracking and staying in Ann Arbor is viewed as more remote this time around, Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline notes. The Wolverines are believed to have made multiple extension offers to Harbaugh, one a 10-year, $125MM deal. The latest update here included Harbaugh seeking several provisions in the deal, one believed to be assurance the Wolverines would not fire him if an NCAA suspension in connection with Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal comes to pass. The Chargers would need to pay Michigan $1.5MM to hire Harbaugh; the school is also attempting to bump that number to $4MM.

Already suspended twice in 2023, Harbaugh could face a harsher punishment from the NCAA for his alleged role in the scandal. He has since hired an agent and met with two teams. This all points to the former 49ers HC determining 2024 to be his NFL return window. It is not decided Los Angeles will be the place for it, though the Bolts remain in the lead. Harbaugh’s second Bolts interview is believed to have produced an agreement on salary.

The Falcons have also attempted to set up a second Harbaugh meeting, and Pauline adds the fiery HC has family in Florida. The subject of Harbaugh’s family relocating is key here, per Pauline, though the former 49ers, Stanford and University of San Diego HC obviously has extensive ties in California. Harbaugh saw his final NFL action as a Chargers quarterback and began coaching on the then-Oakland Raiders’ staff soon after. But the Falcons are believed to be prioritizing experience this time around. They have interviewed Bill Belichick twice and are expected to meet with Mike Vrabel. The assumed Atlanta frontrunner, Belichick may be losing some steam as the sides discuss how a fit would work.

Harbaugh’s Chargers meetings have gone well, and Maske adds discussions are ongoing. One source informed Pauline the Harbaugh-to-L.A. scenario should be given a 90% chance to happen. The Chargers have begun their second round of GM interviews, likely with a Harbaugh pairing in mind. While we could be hours away from this hire coming to pass, the Bolts remain without a head coach for now.

Latest On Chargers, Jim Harbaugh

It now looks like it would be an upset if Jim Harbaugh is not coaching Justin Herbert next season. While the longtime Michigan HC has been known to go through with extensive NFL flirtations during the 2020s, the Chargers are much farther down the road here compared where the Vikings and Broncos ventured in the past two offseasons.

Harbaugh is going through his second interview with the Chargers, and this meeting looks to be about more than his mere candidacy. Assistants are being discussed, and Outkick.com’s Armando Salguero reports the sides are believed to be in agreement on salary.

The Bolts, who have not hired a coach with previous NFL HC experience since bringing in Norv Turner in 2007, have attempted to push back on the narrative they are cheap when it comes to coach spending. Harbaugh’s would-be salary looks set to back that up. They have offered more than Michigan, per Salguero, who indicates the “extremely strong” proposal the Bolts made surpasses the $12.5MM-per-year number from his Wolverines talks.

Harbaugh’s next NFL salary would not hit his initial asking price, however, with Salguero adding that number is believed to have checked in around $18MM. That aligns with what the Broncos are believed to be paying Sean Payton. Denver brass, which met with Harbaugh twice last year, gave Payton the monster salary due to his credentials and the leverage he held. With FOX at the time, Payton was linked to having interest in the Chargers’ job. The team did not fire Brandon Staley following the 27-point collapse in Jacksonville, helping lead Payton Denver via trade. Payton’s Super Bowl win and the potential for the ex-Saints HC waiting another year — perhaps for the Bolts’ job — gave him rare leverage, and he is believed to be earning a top-five coaching salary.

The Chargers’ past three searches produced first-time HCs (Mike McCoy, Anthony Lynn, Staley); Harbaugh’s experience laps those candidates’. His four-year win percentage from the 49ers period (.695) ranks fifth in NFL history — higher than any active NFL coach. The 60-year-old leader is also coming off a national championship.

Also linked to a potential Harbaugh pursuit, the Raiders having followed through with their long-rumored Antonio Pierce promotion left Harbaugh with one less option. The Falcons have a second interview scheduled, but they have also been closely linked to Bill Belichick, Mike Vrabel and others. Vrabel met about the Chargers’ vacancy last week, but it certainly appears he trails Harbaugh.

Personnel matters are also on today’s agenda, per Salguero. Harbaugh and Trent Baalke famously feuded during the latter’s time as 49ers GM, leading to a power struggle that sent Harbaugh to his alma mater. While Harbaugh is not exactly a universally liked presence among NFL front office figures, his coaching credentials are strong. He would undoubtedly carry significant input regarding the Chargers’ next GM hire, though it is not believed he would force a GM on the Bolts.

This process appears near the goal line, but it will be interesting if more updates come on the Michigan side; negotiations on another extension have transpired for weeks. Harbaugh has returned to the college ranks after the meetings with the Vikes and Broncos, but a long-rumored NFL return appears close.

Chargers, Jim Harbaugh Meeting For Second Time; Parties Working Toward Agreement?

Jim Harbaugh‘s second interview with the Chargers marks another important milestone in his presumed return to the NFL. The latest update on the situation points to an agreement potentially being on the horizon.

Harbaugh’s second interview is taking place today, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network notes (video link). It was reported yesterday that the parties would meet for a second time, so it comes as little surprise that a follow-up has been worked out rather quickly.

Pelissero’s colleague Mike Garafolo adds that Los Angeles has made an “extremely strong offer” to Harbaugh, whose value has spiked in the wake of an undefeated, championship-winning season at Michigan. He is still in the process of negotiating a new Wolverines extension, but interest involving the Chargers is not seen as a mere ploy to leverage a better incentive package, Garafolo explains.

Rather, talks between Los Angeles and Harbaugh have progressed to the point where coaching and front office staffs are being discussed. Per Aaron Wilson of KPRC2Greg Roman could be a top candidate to take on offensive coordinator duties. A Harbaugh-led Chargers staff could also, to little surprise, include familiar faces at the other coordinator spots. Wilson names Michigan DC Jesse Minter and Harbaugh’s son Jay as options to lead L.A.’s defense and special teams, respectively.

Harbaugh has been connected to the Chargers early and often this year, and a report pointed to him being particularly interested in the Los Angeles gig. The team, in turn, is believed to be the favorite to land him in the event he does indeed return to an NFL sideline. Harbaugh has been at Michigan since his 49ers tenure came to an end in 2014. His four-year tenure in the Bay Area included a .695 winning percentage and a Super Bowl appearance, though, and his strong performances have continued with the Wolverines in recent years in particular.

Harbaugh also has a second interview scheduled with the Falcons, but the urgency which the Chargers appear to be showing could make that meeting a moot point. As Pelissero notes, Los Angeles has satisfied the Rooney Rule’s requirements of in-person interviews with at least two external minority candidates. As a result, an agreement with Harbaugh (or any other coach) could take place at any time.

The 60-year-old met with the Vikings and Broncos over the past two hiring cycles, keeping his name in the conversation for a jump from the college game back to the pros. Neither case saw that take place, but Harbaugh’s contract demands with Michigan and his decision to hire an agent have pointed to 2024 as being a strong possibility for his return date regarding an NFL gig.

Harbaugh finished his playing career with the Chargers, and a return to the franchise in a coaching capacity could give the team a high-profile Brandon Staley replacement. Los Angeles has not met for a second time with any other candidate, and CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes the team was expected to issue requests at some point this week. That has yet to take place, another sign that Harbaugh may soon be tapped as the Chargers’ next head coach.

Chargers To Conduct Second HC Interview With Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh has been linked to the Chargers on a number of occasions, and signs continue to point him to Los Angeles. The parties will meet for a second interview this week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

The longtime Michigan coach has appeared to be on the verge of an NFL return in each of the past three years. 2024 has seen him linked to a number of openings, but with the Raiders having promoted Antonio Pierce to their full-time gig, the Chargers remain a logical destination. A report from the weekend confirmed Los Angeles is in pole position to acquire Harbaugh.

The 60-year-old led the Wolverines to an undefeated season and a national championship this season. 2024 would thus mark a reasonable time for Harbaugh to return to the pro game, and he is believed to have serious interest in the Chargers’ posting. The outcome of the impending interview will thus be worth watching closely.

Harbaugh’s first 2024 interview took place with the Chargers, and meeting took place in person. It also spanned two days, a sign of the mutual interest which appears to exist between the parties. Harbaugh has been a top target for other teams as well, however, and he has spoken with the Falcons. Los Angeles may need to move quickly if the team is committed to Harbaugh as the top target.

Michigan is seeking to keep him in the fold, and talks on another contract extension are ongoing. Notably, though, Harbaugh is seeking (among other things) a delay in the time at which his latest extension kicks in. That would lengthen the window during which NFL suitors would be required to pay a smaller buyout fee to hire him, another sign that a pro contract could be forthcoming. Armed with signficant leverage on talks with any interested team, Harbaugh recently hired an agent to assist with negotiations.

With Harbaugh still firmly in the running to land the Chargers’ gig, here is an updated look at Los Angeles’ ongoing search: