Cowboys Could Land Potential $125 Million Coach Amid Rumors: Analyst

Only Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones could give a current head coach job security while also leaving the door open for a potential change. All this has prompted rumors that Jones could go big-game hunting and make a run at the Michigan Wolverines‘ Jim Harbaugh or New England Patriots‘ Bill Belichick this offseason.

During his weekly radio show with 105.3 The Fan, Jones appeared surprised that Mike McCarthy‘s job security is a topic of discussion. Yet, just days earlier Jones noted that the Cowboys would take it game by game with McCarthy when it comes to the postseason. It is hard to imagine the Cowboys moving on from McCarthy after three straight seasons with 12 regular-season wins.

Another early playoff exit for the Cowboys will add fuel — rightly or wrongly — to the fire about McCarthy’s future. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox made the argument as to why Harbaugh would be a top candidate if the Dallas makes a surprise move with McCarthy.

“Could Dallas be one of those teams [interested in Harbaugh]? It’s difficult to believe otherwise. Harbaugh is about to play for one championship, and he wasted little time getting the same opportunity the last time he was in the NFL,” Knox wrote in a January 8, 2024, article titled “Ideal Head Coaching Fits for Cowboys If They Lose in NFL Playoffs, Fire Mike McCarthy.”

“Harbaugh reached the NFC title game in his first season as the 49ers’ head coach and made it to the Super Bowl the following year. If Jones wants a head coach who has proved he can yield fast results, Harbaugh is his ideal target.

“It’s not hard to envision Jones swooping in and making a play for arguably this year’s hottest coaching candidate.”

If Jones does make a run at Harbaugh, it would cost the Cowboys owner a premium. Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz reported that Harbaugh could land an average annual salary of $15 million in the NFL. The league insider added that this would put him in the neighborhood of Belichick’s $20 million salary.

All this comes as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Harbaugh has a standing contract extension offer from Michigan. This is a 10-year, $125 million offer and prohibits Harbaugh from talking to NFL teams in 2024.

“Sources say Harbaugh, whose current deal runs through 2026, received an offer from Michigan for a 10-year, $125 million contract extension that would make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football,” Rapoport detailed in a December 24 article titled “Jim Harbaugh weighing contract offer from Michigan that includes no-NFL clause for 2024.” “Yet there is a caveat, and it’s NFL-related.

“If he signed the deal — which he has not yet done — Harbaugh would agree not to entertain or accept an NFL job for the 2024 season. The NFL clause would be one season only, but that’s apparently been enough to drag out the process. Michigan has also offered Harbaugh a far shorter deal worth about $11 million per year, sources say.”

The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reported on January 6 that Jones could consider a coaching change if the Cowboys struggle in the postseason. It is hard to imagine the Cowboys would make a change unless it was for a rare opportunity to land a coach like Harbaugh or Belichick.

Would Harbaugh represent a significant upgrade over McCarthy? The Cowboys coach has the trump card with a Super Bowl ring. Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in his four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers head coach, including a Super Bowl appearance in the 2012 season. A long Cowboys playoff run would go a long way to silence the chatter about his future.

Harbaugh and the Wolverines won college football’s national championship on January 8, beating the University of Washington 34-13 and finishing the season 15-0.

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