Las Vegas may have interest in Jim Harbaugh, who served as the franchise's quarterbacks coach 20 years ago, but the Raiders haven't yet engaged directly with the Michigan coach according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Rapoport appeared on Friday's edition of the Pat McAfee Show to discuss the widespread rumors about Harbaugh's latest dalliance with the NFL. While other teams like Chicago have come up in Harbaugh talks, no team has been widely connected to him as a candidate than Las Vegas.
Rapoport not-so-subtly hinted at the idea that—because most of the smoke is coming from Harbaugh's side of these talks—he could be using the Raiders as leverage to get a new contract from his alma mater.
“I believe he'd be interested,” Rapoport said. “Now, he's also in negotiations with Michigan, so is his interest in the NFL kinda being like, ‘Hey, Michigan...’ I can't remember a situation where there's been so much stuff coming from the Harbaugh side/Michigan side talking about NFL interest. It makes me wonder if it's on purpose...
“I know the Raiders have some interest, but they haven't engaged at all.”
Las Vegas is also searching for its next general manager after the Raiders fired Mike Mayock, which could slow down the process of finding the next head coach. Rapoport cited Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler as a name to watch in the franchise's search for its next general manager.
Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who led Las Vegas to the playoffs, will interview for the Raiders head coaching job. Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo has also been attached to the opening.
Harbaugh's contract circumstances adds plenty of intrigue to the situation for reasons that Rapoport, McAfee, and A.J. Hawk alluded to and joked about.
After going 2–4 in the 2020 season, Michigan signed Harbaugh to a new deal, slicing his annual salary in half and adding significant incentives to his contract that allowed him to recoup much of what was the top salary in the Big Ten. It paid off for Michigan in 2021. The Wolverines recorded a 12–2 record, won a Big Ten championship and earned a trip to the College Football Playoff.
“No big deal,” Harbaugh said ahead of the Orange Bowl when asked about his contract situation. “Attacking each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind as always. Didn't really mean anything to me—It's just money. Big deal.”
Renegotiating with Michigan once again—with the potential of using NFL interest as leverage to get back much of that lost money—would indicate that it's more of a “big deal” than Harbaugh led on a few weeks ago.
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