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Chargers Update: Jim Harbaugh Latest News

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It now looks like it would be an upset if Jim Harbaugh is not coaching Justin Herbert next season. While the longtime Michigan HC has been known to go through with extensive NFL flirtations during the 2020s, the Chargers are much farther down the road here compared where the Vikings and Broncos ventured in the past two offseasons.

Harbaugh is going through his second interview with the Chargers, and this meeting looks to be about more than his mere candidacy. Assistants are being discussed, and Outkick.com’s Armando Salguero reports the sides are believed to be in agreement on salary.

The Bolts, who have not hired a coach with previous NFL HC experience since bringing in Norv Turner in 2007, have attempted to push back on the narrative they are cheap when it comes to coach spending. Harbaugh’s would-be salary looks set to back that up. They have offered more than Michigan, per Salguero, who indicates the “extremely strong” proposal the Bolts made surpasses the $12.5MM-per-year number from his Wolverines talks.

Harbaugh’s next NFL salary would not hit his initial asking price, however, with Salguero adding that number is believed to have checked in around $18MM. That aligns with what the Broncos are believed to be paying Sean Payton. Denver brass, which met with Harbaugh twice last year, gave Payton the monster salary due to his credentials and the leverage he held. With FOX at the time, Payton was linked to having interest in the Chargers’ job. The team did not fire Brandon Staley following the 27-point collapse in Jacksonville, helping lead Payton Denver via trade. Payton’s Super Bowl win and the potential for the ex-Saints HC waiting another year — perhaps for the Bolts’ job — gave him rare leverage, and he is believed to be earning a top-five coaching salary.

The Chargers’ past three searches produced first-time HCs (Mike McCoy, Anthony Lynn, Staley); Harbaugh’s experience laps those candidates’. His four-year win percentage from the 49ers period (.695) ranks fifth in NFL history — higher than any active NFL coach. The 60-year-old leader is also coming off a national championship.

Also linked to a potential Harbaugh pursuit, the Raiders having followed through with their long-rumored Antonio Pierce promotion left Harbaugh with one less option. The Falcons have a second interview scheduled, but they have also been closely linked to Bill Belichick, Mike Vrabel and others. Vrabel met about the Chargers’ vacancy last week, but it certainly appears he trails Harbaugh.

Personnel matters are also on today’s agenda, per Salguero. Harbaugh and Trent Baalke famously feuded during the latter’s time as 49ers GM, leading to a power struggle that sent Harbaugh to his alma mater. While Harbaugh is not exactly a universally liked presence among NFL front office figures, his coaching credentials are strong. He would undoubtedly carry significant input regarding the Chargers’ next GM hire, though it is not believed he would force a GM on the Bolts.

This process appears near the goal line, but it will be interesting if more updates come on the Michigan side; negotiations on another extension have transpired for weeks. Harbaugh has returned to the college ranks after the meetings with the Vikes and Broncos, but a long-rumored NFL return appears close.

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