At their current trajectory downward, the Indianapolis Colts, appear likely to have an offseason opening after the team’s embarrassing 54-19 loss on primetime Sunday night—and could be a possibility to bring in another former player (that isn’t Jeff Saturday this go around) for the franchise’s full-time head coaching job:
From Sunday: With his old team the #Colts having an opening for a head coach, NFL teams are doing homework on Jim Harbaugh again and at least a few key people believe he'd consider it. https://t.co/GuNcagl6Yt— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2022
Harbaugh’s #2 Michigan Wolverines (13-0) just won the Big Ten Football Championship and have become one of the top college football programs under his tutelage, steadily improving since his arrival in Ann Arbor during 2015.
That being said, Harbaugh has not coached in the NFL since 2014, then as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. With a 44-19 (.695) career coaching record during four seasons, Harbaugh never had a losing season and made the playoffs in three of his four seasons—highlighted by winning the NFC Championship in 2012.
He was heavily courted by the Minnesota Vikings last offseason before things ultimately fell through—although at one point, it appeared that a deal between both sides would ultimately get done until the Vikings pivoted to current head coach Kevin O’Connell.
At age 58, Harbaugh is still young enough where a jump back to the pros could still make some sense, and the Colts would obviously be a familiar suitor. Harbaugh played four seasons in Indianapolis (1994-97), leading the Colts to the AFC Championship Game in 1995, and ‘Captain Comeback’ was later enshrined into the franchise’s illustrious Ring of Honor.
It’s unclear what the nature of Colts team owner Jim Irsay and Harbaugh’s current relationship is these days—and the franchise no longer has his former Stanford protege Andrew Luck at starting quarterback (whose abrupt retirement started a steady decline for the team following the 2018 campaign).
That being said, the Colts do have star running back Jonathan Taylor and what’s been consistently one of the league’s better defenses this season. Harbaugh’s 49ers teams were known to pound the football on the ground and were backed by stingy defenses, so from purely a playing style standpoint, there appear to be the makings of a solid fit (although this roster needs improvement collectively, especially at starting quarterback).
For what it’s worth, Jim Harbaugh is making $6.395M annually at Michigan. Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay is reportedly the current highest NFL paid head coach at $15-18M, so the Colts theoretically have the ability to roughly double Harbaugh’s collegiate salary—should Irsay and his franchise feel so inclined to lure him back to his old playing day stomping grounds and hopefully restore the Horseshoe back to its old prestigious form.
At the very least, Harbaugh returning to Indianapolis as the Colts new head coach is an intriguing and a not completely out-of-the question scenario right now.