Insider: Jim Harbaugh Would Leave Michigan for Broncos After Missing Out on Vikings

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 9, 2023

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

Those close to Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh reportedly believe he would take the Denver Broncos job if offered despite the challenges of rebuilding a team that went 5-12 this year.

"He will flat go to Denver," a former Harbaugh associate told Mike Sando of The Athletic. "He is not thinking about any of that stuff. He will just go take it, in my opinion. He thought he was going to get the Vikings job last year and it didn't happen."

The Broncos intend to interview Harbaugh this week, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Harbaugh addressed NFL rumors in a statement last week, saying he does "expect" to remain at Michigan but qualifying that "no one knows what the future holds."

Multiple sources close to Harbaugh previously said he would leave for any NFL opportunity, per Bruce Feldman, Nicole Auerbach, Austin Meek, Nick Kosmider and Joseph Person of The Athletic.

The 59-year-old is coming off his eighth season at Michigan, compiling a 74-25 record while winning the Big Ten title in each of the last two years. The program is being investigated for rules violations, however, with Harbaugh allegedly "failing to cooperate with investigators," per Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports.

Harbaugh had discussions with the Minnesota Vikings about their opening last offseason, but they didn't offer him the position, and he returned to Michigan.

The coach could pursue an NFL job more aggressively this time around with the Indianapolis Colts also a potential option, per Sando.

Denver could have a difficult path to success after Russell Wilson's struggles in his first year with the team. The veteran quarterback likely isn't going anywhere after signing a five-year, $243 million contract extension. As well, the Broncos' first-round pick at No. 5 overall and their second-round pick belong to Seattle in 2023, which hurts the team's chances to find immediate contributors, though they do have a late first-rounder after trading Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins in November.

This could scare away other top candidates, like former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, but Harbaugh might be willing to take the risk.