« Linebackers back to work Wednesday | Main | Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon in a sack drought »

Michigan offer to Harbaugh changes things ... for better

Multiple media reports, including one from @Rapsheet at NFL Network, say the University of Michigan has offered San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh a six-year contract worth $48 million.


Why is it good news? Let's do the work ...

Obviously someone leaked the offer to the media. This report had the size ($48 million) and scope (six years) of the Michigan offer and, unfortunately for everyone involved, it smacked of leverage building. Even as Harbaugh finishes out his final two games as the San Francisco coach, this story feels like his agents (or someone) is positioning Harbaugh for other offers from NFL teams.

And as Harbaugh already turned down Michigan once but now has them on the hook again, he can use the offer against any NFL team willing to chase his services.

That's good for Harbaugh. That's good for the Dolphins. That's bad for the 49ers.

Why is good for Harbaugh? The offer sets the floor of what he's about to be paid. Some NFL team is going to have to come up with $8-$10 million per year to get him.

Why is it good for the Dolphins?

Well, assuming Stephen Ross still fancies Harbaugh, it puts him in an almost unique position to land him because ... 

1. Harbaugh is obviously considering moving away from the West Coast, which has been one of the hangups of getting him to a team not on the West Coast. 2. Ross has one of the deepest pockets in the NFL owner community, so paying that kind of money probably would not give him the same long pause it might give, say, Mark Davis in Oakland. 3. The draft pick compensation for Harbaugh just dropped through the floor.

It is clear the Dolphins have no desire or even intention to trade for Harbaugh. Guess what? Neither does any other team. That is a pipe dream by the 49ers that reminds of teams putting players they're going to cut on the trade block days before trimming their roster in September. Most teams do not give up something for players that are about to become available.

I believe similar thinking will apply to Harbaugh.

And Harbaugh is going to come available. Harbaugh, by the way, doesn't want his next team to give up a draft pick to get him because that will be taking a draft pick from himself. Plus, Harbaugh can force the 49ers to relent because he can vow not to go to any team via trade and instead continue reporting for work or threaten to take the Michigan offer, which also would give San Francisco no draft pick compensation.

Can you imagine?

San Fran: Jim, we've traded you to Atlanta.

Harbaugh: I'm not going to Atlanta. I'm the head coach of the 49ers.

San Fran: But, Jim, you don't want to be here and we don't want you here.

Harbaugh: I'll be reporting for work tomorrow and every day after that.

San Fran: But, but, we cannot have that.

Harbaugh: I'll be in my office.

San Fran: Ok, Jim, you're fired.

Harbaugh: Great. Bye.

And then Harbaugh works out a contract with whatever team he wants to go to without costing himself a draft pick. Or, perhaps for the sake of expediency, he gives up a sixth or fifth round pick. Either way, we're not talking about a first-day or even a second-day of the draft selection.

One more thing: The biggest fan of the Harbaugh to Michigan possibility -- slim as it seems at this stage?

Joe Philbin.

As I've told you repeatedly on this blog, the Dolphins are not, not, not dead set against keeping Joe Philbin. They just want to upgrade at coach, assuming the team does not make the playoffs. And the only obvious upgrade is Harbaugh.

So if Harbaugh goes to Michigan or anywhere else and is out of the realm of possibility for Miami ... the chances of Philbin keeping his job increase dramatically, assuming he wins out the final two weeks.