NFL rumors: 5 best potential landing spots for Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh

By Vincent Frank
Nov 28, 2020; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sideline in the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lionsat Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh and his Michigan Wolverines just finished up shop on a disastrous 2-4 season. The old ball coach could very well be out of a job in Ann Arbor, leading to NFL rumors that a move to the pros might be in the cards.

To say that Harbaugh’s tenure in Michigan has been a disappointment would be an understatement. He finishes up his first six seasons in that role with a 49-22 record and having lost four consecutive bowl games. For the first time since 2014, Michigan won’t be playing postseason football.

If Jim Harbaugh were to leave the Wolverines for the NFL, multiple media reports indicate that a plethora of teams are interested in his services. Some are already doing their homework.

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As of right now, two teams in that of the Texans and Falcons will be looking for new head coaches. At least a half-dozen other teams could jump into the fray. It’s in this that we look at the top-five potential landing spots for Jim Harbaugh should the former San Francisco 49ers head coach make his way back to the NFL.

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1. Houston Texans hire Jim Harbaugh for Deshaun Watson

NFL rumors: Jim Harbaugh would be a great hire for the Texans.
Dec 20, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) reacts after a Texans fumble into the end zone to end the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It really is something. Fresh off firing Bill O’Brien, these Texans are in danger of wasting the otherworldly talent that is quarterback Deshaun Watson. Despite his team’s struggles this season, the former Clemson star has been downright tremendous. He put up nearly 400 total yards in a Week 15 loss to the Colts and has tallied 30 total touchdowns and six interceptions in 14 starts this year.

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Obviously, the Texans’ brass needs to find an offensive-minded head coach to take over long-term. Watson himself will have a say. If so, it makes perfect sense for Jim Harbaugh to see his next stop be in Houston. Here’s a guy who has had success with all sorts of different quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick included.

2. New York Jets pair Jim Harbaugh up with Trevor Lawrence

NFL rumors: Jim Harbaugh and Trevor Lawrence to the Jets?
Nov 7, 2020; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) watches warmups before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Should these Jets earn the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft (not a certainty), they will become a highly-coveted option for big-name head coaching candidates. NFL rumors also suggest that New York will be going after a big name on the offensive side of the ball. That’s all dependent on the Jets adding consensus No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence come April.

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Even if the Jets were to bring in Lawrence to replace the embattled Sam Darnold, they’d still need to find a ton of upgrades on both sides of the ball. However, pairing Lawrence with Jim Harbaugh and the staff he’d bring in would be a tremendous start for this long-downtrodden franchise.

3. Philadelphia Eagles hire Jim Harbaugh to replace Doug Pederson

NFL rumors: Eagles to bring in Jim Harbaugh?
Dec 13, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) runs off the field after a victory against the New Orleans Saints at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

NFL rumors around Philadelphia suggest that these Eagles will ultimately replace Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson after yet another down season. Primarily, the powers that be within this organization can’t be happy with how Pederson has overseen the regression from recently-benched quarterback Carson Wentz.

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Whether Wentz is back in Philadelphia next season remains to be seen. Stud rookie Jalen Hurts could actually be under center when Week 1 of the 2021 campaign comes calling. Either way, Jim Harbaugh would be a tremendous fit here. Philadelphia has a stud young back in Miles Sanders. Harbaugh’s offense caters to that type of talent in a big way. And if Hurts were to get the call, he’d benefit big time from Jim Harbaugh being brought aboard.

4. Atlanta Falcons give it one final go with Matt Ryan and Jim Harbaugh

NFL rumors: Falcons to pair Matt Ryan with Jim Harbaugh?
Dec 20, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half of a NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

A lot is up in the air right now in Atlanta. Following the firings of head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, owner Arthur Blank said that the next coach and general manager will decide on Matt Ryan’s future. At this point, it’s hard to imagine the 35-year-old Ryan wanting to take part in a long-term rebuild.

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That’s where Jim Harbaugh comes into play. It’s also why NFL rumors linking him to the Falcons’ coaching job will be widespread. Imagine what Ryan would be able to do while finally having that offensive-minded head coach for the first time in his career. It would be exciting to see him play pitch-and-catch with Julio Jones under Harbaugh. It would also be a way for Atlanta’s brass to signal to Ryan that the team is not headed for a rebuild.

5. Detroit Lions: Jim Harbaugh returns home

In terms of on-field fit, this makes no real sense. Matthew Stafford will more than likely be gone from Detroit this coming offseason. He wants to win now. The Lions are going to enter full-scale rebuild mode. Recent NFL rumors also conclude that Detroit is looking at a defensive-minded head coach in that of 49ers coordinator Robert Saleh.

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Off the field, this makes a ton of sense. Jim Harbaugh grew up with his father coaching at Michigan and Western Michigan. He starred in college for the Wolverines. And while it has not worked out in Ann Arbor, a transition to the NFL in his adopted home state could make sense.