NFL Rumors: Can John Elway Get the Denver Broncos into the Jim Harbaugh Race?

Chris EggemeyerCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford Cardinal looks on after Stanford won 40-12 against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

There has been no bigger offseason story thus far for the NFL than the race to grab Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Carolina Panthers want him, the Miami Dolphins want him, the San Francisco 49ers want him and now the Denver Broncos want him (oh yeah, and Stanford still wants him).

I wonder how his brother John Harbaugh feels about all of this?

In any case, the big focus now is on two teams on that list: the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos.

The 49ers have already stated their case. It is rumored that Jed York has offered Harbaugh considerable control over the team as well as anywhere between $3 to $5.5 million (again, these numbers are pulled from rumor).

With Stanford "sweetening" his deal and Andrew Luck returning to the farm, though, it seems like Harbaugh may be headed back to Stanford for another season, but for one person: John Elway.

The Denver Broncos brought on their former Super Bowl winning quarterback as their vice president of football operations in an effort to help bring the team back to prominence after the failure of the Josh McDaniels era.

The first place Elway started looking, even before he was officially brought on, was at his alma mater.

Rumors have been made public that Elway either reached out to Harbaugh as well as Andrew Luck in the past few weeks, or, at the very least, discussed the concepts with the Denver Broncos organization.

And here we are, mere days after his hiring, with news that the Broncos will add Harbaugh to their short list (which includes San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams).

The big question is, is Elway enough to get Denver into the Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes?

The Broncos already have some of the talent framework in place to grab a head coach.

They have one of the most talented pass rushers in the League in Elvis Dumervil (although he will be coming off of injury), an offense with a lot of potential led by a breakout dual-threat quarterback and they have themselves in decent draft position this April.

With Elway in place now, the Denver Broncos even have an alumni hook in their plan.

Elway, more than anything else, gives the Broncos a sort of X factor in these negotiations. Harbaugh will likely want considerable control over the team, including final say on drafting and free-agent signing, which means that Elway ends up being relegated to a supporting role, but his presence there is undeniably positive.

In any case, Elway may just be enough to get Jim Harbaugh at least interested in considering Denver. Whether or not Harbaugh takes a serious look at them and actually listens to offers is a whole different deal entirely.