Jim Harbaugh is about a month away from becoming the most wanted man in football...if you believe the rumors.
Harbaugh has reportedly been feuding with 49ers management for years now, and the constant stream of negative stories is getting increasingly hard to ignore. The former Michigan QB would reportedly prefer to stay in the NFL rather than return to the college game...but which teams have the best chance at landing Harbaugh?
The Raiders have a very real shot at Harbaugh...but only if the rumors are true and San Francisco is willing to part with him in a trade. If Oakland is competing on the open market, there are better teams with more resources who could lure him away. If San Francisco wants to make a deal, the playing field evens out considerably.
ProFootballTalk reported that the Cleveland Browns nearly landed Harbaugh for two third-rounders last summer, and the only thing stopping the deal was Harbaugh's reluctance to leave SF for Cleveland. If Harbaugh is on his way out in San Francisco, don't count out how convenient it would be for him to find a new job without uprooting his young family.
Harbaugh has history in Oakland, and while he was only there a short time (2002-2003), he likes the franchise and had immense respect for Al Davis. As crazy as it sounds, this isn't outside the realm of possibility.
Marc Trestman needs a miracle to save his job in Chicago. If the Bears cut ties with the former CFL coach, Harbaugh would instantly jump to the top of their wishlist.
Harbaugh spent his first seven NFL seasons as a player with the Bears, and he still has fond memories of his time in Chicago. Unlike the other teams chasing Harbaugh, Chicago isn't in need of a complete overhaul - there's plenty of talent on this team, and they just need the right coach to get the most out of them.
While Chicago offers the best existing situation for a new HC, the Bears will find themselves at a disadvantage if Harbaugh's situation deteriorates before Trestman's does - if teams are making offers for the 49ers HC while Chicago still has a head coach, it'll make it much harder for them to maneuver.
New York Jets
The Jets made a pass at Harbaugh back in January 2009, but the job eventually went to Rex Ryan. New York has no plans to retain Ryan after this season, and they've started internal discussions over who should come next...with Harbaugh's name coming up frequently.
New York has all the ingredients for a Harbaugh turnaround - an underachieving but talented defense, a gap at quarterback where he can install his own guy, and a front office willing to give him space to do his own thing...that last factor is reportedly what's lacking in San Francisco right now...and the resulting friction could be what pushes him out.
The Jets might not have history with Harbaugh like Oakland or Chicago, but they're still a team to watch when Rex Ryan is let go.
Where do you see Harbaugh going? Let us know in the comments section
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