NFL Rumors: Latest Updates on Jim Harbaugh, Antonio Brown, More

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2022

NFL Rumors: Latest Updates on Jim Harbaugh, Antonio Brown, More

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    The end of the NFL regular season always brings rumors and speculation about the future of several head coaching positions, and this year is no different.

    While some spend time wondering who will be relieved of their duties following the conclusion of their Week 18 games, Jim Harbaugh is apparently contemplating a return to the league in which he was inches away from winning the Lombardi Trophy following the 2012 season.

    The Michigan Wolverines head coach made headlines Tuesday with the report that he may be considering returning to the NFL.

    The former San Francisco 49ers head coach tops a collection of rumors that also feature the latest on the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching vacancy and what actually caused Antonio Brown's outburst Sunday afternoon.

Is Jim Harbaugh Headed Back to the NFL?

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported there "have been rumblings" that Jim Harbaugh may be willing to leave the University of Michigan to return to coaching in the NFL.

    The report stated that the Raiders job may be too good to turn down given his friendship with Mark Davis, a veteran quarterback in place in Derek Carr, and the fact that Harbaugh got his coaching career started as part of that organization.

    The Chicago Bears role, which seems likely to come open at the conclusion of Sunday's Week 18, is also appealing.

    Harbaugh was previously the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers for four years, accumulating a 44-19 record and appearing in SuperBowl XLVII, where his team was one dropped pass away from defeating brother John's Baltimore Ravens.

    The 58-year-old knows how to win, adding 61 wins during his time with Michigan, including a 12-2 season in 2021 that included a College Football Playoff appearance.

    The question is whether he would be willing to go somewhere like Chicago, rebuild the once-proud franchise and take the time to develop Justin Fields. Or, would he look at a situation like Las Vegas, with Carr already established at QB, Josh Jacobs running the rock and Maxx Crosby sparking an explosive defense and want to be a part of that potential championship nucleus?

    Of course, all of this could be smoke and mirrors. Michigan extended him through 2025 a year ago and the Wolverines have the pieces in place to make noise in the playoff picture for the foreseeable future. Why leave that situation, where the coach has the power to put the team together as he sees fit without the interjection of a general manager or ownership?

    Unless he is fueled by the "what could have been" of his last coaching run in the NFL, which ended so abruptly following world championship aspirations.

What Really Caused Antonio Brown's Departure from Tampa Bay?

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    Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

    The football world was taken aback by wide receiver Antonio Brown's bizarre departure from Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccanneers and New York Jets, in which he ripped off his jersey and pads, left the sidelines and threw up deuces on his way out of the stadium. 

    It was later reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports that the 33-year-old had been told by head coach Bruce Arians and the offensive coaching staff to enter the game, but refused, leading to his dismissal.

    Ian Rapoport of NFL Network shed some additional light on the situation, reporting that Brown had spent the previous week nursing an ankle injury and was not sure he would be able to go Sunday. When told by to enter the game, he refused, citing the injured ankle, and was told to leave.

    There were plays in Sunday's game where Brown appeared to be healthy (like this one), and the fact that he left the field doing jumping jacks certainly did not help the optics. Still, it is a bit eyebrow-raising that a player reportedly expressed that he did not feel as though he was healthy enough to go back into the game and the response was to cut him from the team on the spot.

    Worse yet, the decision prevented Brown from attaining nearly $1,000,000 in incentives, all of which were in reach.

    Regardless of fault or not, Brown's display as he left the field likely hampered his chances of signing on with another team. A far-from-sparkling reputation since 2018, the public display he put forth Sunday may have been too much for another organization to risk the headache of bringing the star receiver into the fold, regardless of how talented he is. 

    Considering he could not compose himself while chasing another Super Bowl ring with the greatest quarterback of all time, it's not hard to see why.

Jaguars Head Coaching Update

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Rapoport also reported that the Jacksonville Jaguars interviewed Jim Caldwell for their vacant head coaching position Tuesday. He also norted that Buccanneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will do a virtual interview with the team and Super Bowl winner and former coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Todd Pederson, already interviewed.

    Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is the next to interview for the position 

    Despite what has been a disastrous season in Jacksonville, what with the entire Urban Meyer debacle, the Jaguars are still an interesting team for head coaching candidates. The team has Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, a young player most assumed would be the next big thing upon his arrival this season. His rookie campaign has been anything but special, but he still possesses the tools necessary to be a Pro Bowler and championship QB in the future.

    Running back James Robinson is great, too, fueling a Jaguars offense that has proven to be anything but electric without him.

    The two core pieces of the offense are certainly there, but there are many other holes on the team that will need to be addressed. 

    Caldwell is an experienced coach, having appeared in Super Bowl XLIV with Indianapolis and put together the last two respectable seasons in Detroit. He was last seen as an assistant coach in Miami.

    Bowles previously struggled as head coach of the New York Jets, going 4-12, but spearheaded a Buccanneers defense that shut down and embarrassed the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs offense in last year's Super Bowl, making him an intriguing option for teams looking to fill openings.

    Moore might be the most interesting option.

    A young, innovative offensive coordinator who has worked magic with Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, he might be exactly what Lawrence needs to find both consistency and success in the NFL.