Reports are gaining momentum that University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is interested in making a return to the NFL. While many have speculated the most logical return would be to the Las Vegas Raiders, where Harbaugh started his coaching career, the Chicago Bears have entered the rumor mill.
On The Rich Eisen Show, The Athletic's Bruce Feldman said, "If he really wants to go back to the NFL, this might be an ideal situation.
"In addition, there's another franchise that he knows very well, that he has some, from what I'm told, some really positive feelings towards people there. And that's in Chicago with the Bears," Feldman said.
After a successful season at Michigan, Harbaugh is the 12th highest paid football coach in the Big Ten despite leading the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff and a statement win beating Ohio State.
But Feldman added he does not think Harbaugh would be motivated by money to make the jump back to the NFL.
"I don't think you know this is this is really a money situation. As much as it is, is the timing ideal? And that's something else," Feldman said. "I mean, you talk to anybody who has coached in college and in the NFL, and they will talk about what a grind being a college coach is because at least in the NFL, you have an off-season."
Feldman points to the open Raiders job as the opening that could lure Harbaugh away, but adds the Bears are in the mix.
On the surface, the Bears and Harbaugh reunion talk make sense. The head coaching job is expected to be vacant this offseason.
While head coach Matt Nagy hasn't been fired yet, it's been rumored for months that he will be relieved of his duties after the season.
And Harbaugh has deep ties to the Bears organization, much like he does with the Raiders.
Harbaugh played quarterback for the Bears for seven seasons after Chicago drafted him in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He held a 35-30 record as the starting quarterback.
His 11,567 yards passing is the third best total by a Bears quarterback behind Jay Cutler and Sid Luckman, ahead of Jim McMahon.
And with just one week to play in the 2021 NFL season, a number of head coaching jobs are expected to open. The Raiders and Jaguars currently employ interim head coaches in Rich Bisaccia and Darrell Bevell, respectively, and they could both be looking for a new permanent hire.
The Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers are other potential Harbaugh suitors if a coaching change is made in 2022.
In seven seasons with the Wolverines, Harbaugh boasts a 61-24 record with just one bowl win in 2015. Prior to that, he had a 44-19-1 record with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014. Harbaugh led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, where they lost to his brother John's Baltimore Ravens.
With 14 years of pro experience as a quarterback with the Bears, Colts, Ravens and Chargers, Harbaugh has no shortage of connection to the NFL. We'll have to wait and see if he is tempted enough to leave his alma mater.