NFL Rumors: Jim Harbaugh Michigan return is far more likely than it seems

Depending on what happens in Atlanta and Los Angeles, Jim Harbaugh may be back in Ann Arbor.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines / CFP/GettyImages

A lot can change between now and then, but it is looking increasingly likely one of these three teams will be Jim Harbaugh's employer next year: The Atlanta Falcons, the Los Angeles Chargers or the Michigan Wolverines.

Harbaugh just led his alma mater to a national championship victory by winning the College Football Playoff. He turned 60 last month, and has long coveted a return to the NFL.

Although he has interviewed with the Chargers and Falcons already, the other four teams with head coaching vacancies don't seem to be all that interested in speaking with him. Look for the Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and Washington Commanders to go in a different direction than hiring the Michigan head coach. Of course, no NFL team may end up hiring him.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk intimated Harbaugh may be using the NFL as leverage to get the largest contract of any head coach in college football. Atlanta and Los Angeles still need a coach.

"The Chargers and Falcons have emerged as the two NFL teams most interested in Harbaugh. If, as it appears, Harbaugh is a Plan B to Bill Belichick (or, perhaps, the internal candidate preferred by folks who are more likely to be fired or neutered by Belichick) in Atlanta, it looks like the Chargers or no one for Harbaugh. And if the Chargers are playing it on the cheap side with Harbaugh, he might end up getting the most money to stay at Michigan."

Clearly, Harbaugh is Plan B in Atlanta to Bill Belichick, while Dean Spanos continues to pay cheaply.

A return to Michigan is very much on the table for Jim Harbaugh

If not now, when? Harbaugh just accomplished the ultimate goal at his alma mater. He became a champion for the first time in his adult life. Barring any lingering sanctions that could stem from the sign-stealing scandal, Michigan is in a pretty good spot for Harbaugh to hand the keys over to someone else. Sherrone Moore is almost certainly going to be promoted from within if he leaves.

As far as the Falcons are concerned, Harbaugh would be an incredibly popular hire in Atlanta. His arrival in Flowery Branch would unite a continually fractured fanbase. He is a full decade younger than Belichick and would bring with him great working knowledge during the next two drafts since he probably recruited all of these blue-chippers while at Michigan. Of course, Blank wants Belichick.

And for the Chargers, Harbaugh is fond of their quarterback Justin Herbert. This is a franchise he played for at the tail-end of his professional career. The defense may be a mess, but the Bolts still need to hire a new general manager. They also have a slightly better pick than Atlanta inside of the top 10. Of course, Spanos' reputation speaks for itself. If Harbaugh wants to get paid, don't go there.

If Atlanta turns its undivided attention his way, the Falcons may be the team to get him to the NFL.

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