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NFLN: Michigan's Jim Harbaugh to Interview for Broncos HC Job amid Sean Payton Rumors

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2023

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines is seen on the sideline during the first quarter against the TCU Horned Frogs in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos are reportedly swinging for the fences in their head coaching search.

Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Broncos are set to interview Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh for their vacancy this week. Harbaugh joins former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton among the starry names being sought after to replace Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired after less than one season.

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is also expected to be among the outside candidates to interview for the position.

Harbaugh met virtually with the Carolina Panthers last week regarding their head-coaching vacancy. The NFL Network report said the meeting "didn't amount to anything," and it would be a surprise if Harbaugh left Michigan for a team in need of such significant work. The Indianapolis Colts could also pursue Harbaugh, who is in the franchise's Ring of Honor from his playing days.

That said, the Broncos vacancy is by far the best of the three on paper. The team boasts one of the NFL's best defenses, a solid offense with young skill-position players and embattled quarterback Russell Wilson, who performed miserably in 2022 but is still just 34 years old with a Hall of Fame resumè.

Hackett was seemingly overwhelmed by the head-coaching spotlight from the moment he got the job in Denver, and things never came close to meshing on the offensive side of the ball.

Payton said Sunday that he has already had conversations with the Denver ownership group.

FOX Sports: NFL @NFLonFOX

Yesterday, the Broncos reached out to the Saints to inquire about their former HC Sean Payton.<a href="https://twitter.com/SeanPayton?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SeanPayton</a> discusses the situation and his possible return to the NFL ⬇️ <a href="https://t.co/XDr7HADIUT">pic.twitter.com/XDr7HADIUT</a>

Adding Payton or Harbaugh to the mix would give the Broncos the type of accomplished coach who commands respect in the locker room and has the acumen to turn things around. Harbaugh has won everywhere he's gone as a head coach, starting his career at San Diego University before spending time at Stanford and Michigan at the collegiate level with a four-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers mixed in.

With the 49ers, Harbaugh went 44-19-1 and never had a losing season in four years with the franchise. However, he parted ways with the franchise after the 2014 campaign amid a power struggle with then-general manager Trent Baalke.

Harbaugh recently said he expects to "enthusiastically" return to Michigan in 2023. It's very possible he's simply using the NFL interest as leverage to land a contract making him one of the highest-paid college coaches in the nation.