NFL Rumors: Lions have Jim Harbaugh to thank for Ben Johnson decision

It is not a direct correlation, but Jim Harbaugh played a part in Ben Johnson staying with Detroit.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

Who knew that Jim Harbaugh loved the entire State of Michigan so much? Although he is leaving his alma mater for the NFL, Harbaugh is a Michigan man through and through. He had been flirting with going back to the league for the last few offseason cycles. First with the Minnesota Vikings in 2022. Then with with Denver Broncos in 2023. And finally going to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2024.

Harbaugh also interviewed for the head coaching position with the Atlanta Falcons that ultimately went to former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Raheem Morris. However, Harbaugh may have played a huge part in Ben Johnson deciding to drop out of the running for the final two head-coaching vacancies with the Seattle Seahawks, and especially with the Washington Commanders.

While appearing on Wyman and Bob, FOX Sports' Mark Schlereth dropped a very interesting tidbit, possibly explaining why Johnson decided to return to the Detroit Lions for another year. He was the top offensive coordinator head-coaching candidate entering this offseason cycle, but apparently, he really only wanted to go to the Chargers to coach Justin Herbert. Johnson was extremely selective.

While there had been reports that Johnson's demands for being a first-time head coach were bordering on outlandish, Herbert and the Bolts were the golden goose in 2024 and Harbaugh got it.

Johnson will return to a Lions team that blew a 24-3 lead at halftime in the 2023 NFC Championship.

NFL Rumors: Jim Harbaugh sort of played a part in Ben Johnson staying

While Lions fans are over the moon that Johnson is coming back to Detroit for one more season, nothing is guaranteed. Yes, the Lions should be on a shortlist of teams who can contending for a Super Bowl 59 berth in New Orleans next season, but horrific losses like the one they just suffered sting for a while. You just don't pick up where you left on in 2024; you must scale the mountain again.

The strangest part in Johnson returning to the Lions was he could have had the Washington job. Like, he was perceived to be the presumptive favorite to get it. This may have played a part in the Falcons moving off him in favor of hiring Morris instead, but we will never know. All the while, Detroit may have one more shot after all at a Super Bowl in their much-anticipate redemption act during next season.

To be quite frank, Harbaugh knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. He may not be creating anarchy in the U.K., but he certainly knows how to do that at both the college and pro love of this sport we all love so much. Had he decided to run it back one more time in Ann Arbor, the Chargers may have another new head coach. If that were the case, the Lions may have needed a new coordinator.

For teams that did not fire their head coach after this past season, the top candidate is still out there.

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