After interviewing for the job of head coach of the Vikings last winter, Jim Harbaugh said he was closing the door on a possible return to the NFL.
The NFL, it seems, isn’t ready to close the door on Harbaugh.
Sources say several NFL teams have recently done groundwork on Harbaugh, who led Michigan to the Big Ten championship and locked in a college football playoff bid with Saturday’s 43-22 win over Purdue.
An NFL source familiar with the situation said they believe Harbaugh would consider returning to the NFL, and a source with another team who may be conducting a head coaching search said they believe Harbaugh will discuss of an opening if asked and would assess the right situation.
Harbaugh, 58, would be as accomplished as almost any head coaching candidate in the NFL’s next hiring cycle. He was 44-19-1 as head coach of the 49ers from 2011 to 2014, leading San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game three times and a Super Bowl XLVII appearance.
Harbaugh returned to his alma mater after parting ways with the 49ers and led Michigan to five double-digit winning seasons in eight years, including a 12-2 record and a trip to the football playoff semifinals. college last season and now a 13-0 run with another CFP trip to the deck next. (Perhaps most important to Wolverines fans, they’ve also beaten Ohio State in consecutive seasons.)
While NFL interest has been rumored for years, Harbaugh didn’t officially interview for another head coaching job until the 2022 hiring round, when the Vikings spoke once virtually and again for nine hours in person on February 2. They never offered Harbaugh the job that eventually went to Kevin O’Connell, who led Minnesota to a 9-2 start, with a chance to clinch the NFC North title today with a win over the Jets and a Lions loss or draw with the Jaguars.
Bringing Harbaugh to the NFL surely wouldn’t come cheap. Michigan reworked Harbaugh’s five-year deal in February, signing him through the 2026 season and guaranteeing he’ll make more than $7 million a year, with a chance to make millions more with performance bonuses.
“Ultimately, I decided this was where I wanted to be,” Harbaugh told reporters in March. “And really, a lot of gratitude for that.”
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