NFL Rumors: Jim Harbaugh Possibly Headed to Miami Dolphins?

Justin EisenbandCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  (L-R) Quarterback Andrew Luck and head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford Cardinal celebrate on stage after Stanford won 40-12 against the Virginai Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

After consecutive 7-9 seasons in Miami, Tony Sparano is officially on the coaching hot seat in south Florida. Currently, the Dolphins have reached out to former Steelers coach Bill Cowher and current Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh to gauge interest in possibly coming to Miami.

While Sparano still holds his job for now, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is likely to make a change if he can find the right guy to replace Sparano.

Harbaugh may be more than willing to leave Stanford—which may lose quarterback Andrew Luck to the NFL—should he choose to go pro. Another incentive could be the money. Agents for Harbaugh are rumored to be asking for an annual salary of more than $6 million per season, much more than he is getting paid in the college game.

However, the Dolphins may have some competition in landing Harbaugh.

Both the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos are rumored to be extremely interested in Harbaugh, who comes off of a victory in the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech. The question is, how does Stephen Ross convince Harbaugh to come back for more victories at Sun Life Stadium, where the Dolphins were so very bad this year?

San Francisco offers close proximity to Harbaugh's current home at Stanford. The opportunity to stay on the West Coast may be appealing to Harbaugh. Additionally, with the 49ers playing in the NFC West, San Francisco could offer the best probability of making the playoffs next season despite a less than stellar roster.

Denver is also a promising destination. The Broncos have a young quarterback in Tim Tebow, who looked very solid in his first two starts in the NFL. Moreover, John Elway, expected to become vice president for football operations for Denver, played for Stanford and was on the Stanford sidelines during the Orange Bowl. That connection could lead Harbaugh to more seriously consider the Broncos.

So what do the Dolphins offer?

Miami has one of the better defenses in the league, led by Pro Bowl linebacker Cameron Wake. The Dolphins have the best record of any of the teams with possible coaching vacancies, at 7-9, despite an extremely difficult schedule.

Offensively, Miami has some issues at quarterback and running back, but the offensive line and wide receivers have plenty of depth and talent.

Plus, who wouldn't want to live in south Florida?

Harbaugh is the hottest commodity on the coaching market. The Dolphins will have to hold out hope that they have enough to convince him to leave Stanford and spurn other NFL suitors.