Jim Harbaugh rumors seem to float around nearly every off season, and as he enters the last 13 months or so of his deal with no contract extension signed yet, this year will be no different.
A few NFL jobs are already open (Texans and Falcons) and jobs with the Jaguars and Jets may very well open up as well.
Pete Thamel shared an article today that explores the possibility of a return to the NFL for the Wolverines head coach, who finds himself drawing the ire of the Wolverine fan base once again after losing to rival Michigan State last weekend in a match up that they were three touchdown favorites in.
Currently, Harbaugh is 48-19 in his sixth season leading his alma mater after going 44-19 in four seasons with the 49ers from 2011-14.
Thamel notes in his article today: "Buzz is filtering through NFL front offices that Harbaugh is open to return to the league," before adding that the question is whether an NFL organization would be tempted to bring Harbaugh in, considering his history and unique personality.
Then, in the next sentence in the piece, Thamel notes from a source within the industry; "I just don't hear his name out there anywhere. I would be surprised if it happens."
In checking around with some analysts and front office personnel around the league, Thamel uncovers a mixed bag of opinions on the likelihood that Harbaugh leaves for the NFL. Former Niners who played under him fervently believe in him and believe he has what it takes to lead an NFL team again, while decision makers who are opting to stay anonymous range from skeptical (at best) to willing to deal with some of Harbaugh's quirks and abrasiveness if he's able to develop and get the most out of quarterbacks.
If Michigan wants to throw some water on these types of reports, the best thing they can do is to sign Harbaugh to a contract extension. While doing just that may quiet down the speculation around other jobs, fans in Columbus and East Lansing will certainly have their own opinions on keeping Harbaugh in Ann Arbor.
Head over to Thamel's piece to read the full take.