NFL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Jim Harbaugh, Brian Flores and Calvin Ridley

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2022

NFL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Jim Harbaugh, Brian Flores and Calvin Ridley

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The 2021-22 playoffs are in full swing. The Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills picked up wins Saturday, while the Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots will move on to the offseason. Four Super Wild Card Weekend games remain, but the Raiders, Patriots and 18 other franchises are focused on preparing for 2022.

    For some franchises—a quarter of the league, to be exact—the first order of business will be identifying a head coach for next season. Other teams are already busy evaluating their rosters and examining potential targets on the free-agent and trade markets.

    Here we'll dive into the latest NFL buzz as the playoffs continue to unfold.

Jim Harbaugh Could Take NFL Job with Sights Set on Super Bowl

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    It seems that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh would like to be where Bengals coach Zac Taylor and Bills coach Sean McDermott are: in the mix for a Super Bowl.

    Fox Sports' Jay Glazer recently reported that Harbaugh was at least considering an NFL comeback.

    "Jim Harbaugh, I can tell you this, has been calling around, asking for people, in case he gets an NFL job, if they would join his staff," Glazer said on the Fox NFL pregame show.

    According to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio, Harbaugh is doing more than simply keeping an open mind about the NFL:

    "As a source with knowledge of the situation explains it to PFT, Harbaugh is watching and waiting to see whether a team with a reasonable ownership and general manager situation is interested in giving him an opportunity to continue an NFL career that resulted, from 2011 through 2014, in a record of 44-19-1 and a Super Bowl berth. At age 58, Harbaugh wants to get back to the Super Bowl and win it."

    When Harbaugh last left college for an NFL job, he took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in only his second year. The 49ers lost, however, and Harbaugh was back to the college ranks after four years. If he is looking to claim the Lombardi Trophy that eluded him in his last time around, he might just find an opportunity.

    The Raiders have a decision to make on interim coach Rich Bisaccia, but the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants are already in the head-coaching market.

Brian Flores a Front-Runner for the Houston Job

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Texans waited until Thursday to fire head coach David Culley, but they may already have a replacement in mind. According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, Brian Flores, who was fired by the Dolphins on Monday, might not be unemployed for long.

    "Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores is being viewed as the strong favorite to take over the Houston Texans by numerous coaches and general managers involved in this hiring cycle," La Canfora wrote.

    Houston announced that it had interviewed Flores on Friday, just one day after parting with Culley. To be fair, this isn't the first "front-runner" who has been linked to Houston this offseason.

    "Patriots' LB coach Jerod Mayo is expected to emerge as a leading candidate for the Houston Texans' HC job, per sources," ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted.

    The interest in Flores and Mayo—both products of the Bill Belichick coaching tree—isn't surprising. Texans executive VP of football operations Jack Easterby and general manager Nick Caserio both worked for the organization before coming to Houston.

    As recently fired retread coaches go, Flores is an intriguing option. He produced back-to-back winning seasons in Miami in 2020 and 2021 before his firing.

Calvin Ridley Reportedly Hasn't Had 'A Lot of Communication' with Falcons

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons aren't in the head-coach market, but they should be evaluating their roster. Atlanta went only 7-10 this season and is set to be $3.3 million over the cap next year, per Spotrac.

    Part of the evaluation process will involve standout receiver Calvin Ridley. The Alabama product had 1,374 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season but hasn't played since Week 7—he announced that he would be stepping away to focus on his mental health.

    The Falcons would presumably love to get Ridley back into the fold. However, it seems that communication between the player and the team has been lacking.

    "It doesn't sound like there's been a lot of communication between Ridley's camp and the team, this according to sources that I have spoken to," NFL Media's Mike Garafolo said.

    Garafolo speculated that both Ridley and the Falcons could be looking for a change this offseason, which would almost certainly mean a trade. Again, this is speculative, but it won't be a surprise to see teams call Atlanta about Ridley's availability this offseason.

    The Falcons have been good about respecting Ridley's privacy during the season, so it's unlikely that we'll hear anything definitive until he and the team have discussed a resolution internally.