Jim Harbaugh met with Michael Rosenberg of Sports Illustrated to discuss all of the rumors that have been circulating around him, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and his future with the team. Over the past couple weeks, the narrative of Harbaugh being unhappy with his pay, unhappy with the amount of power he's being given and overall inability to stay in one place for more than three years has gotten out of control.
Harbaugh used the interview as a means to try and defuse the situation, though for his money, there is no situation. The specifics as to what is generally perceived as wrong with Harbaugh's situation are as follows: he apparently wants to be the highest paid coach in the NFL, he wants to be the team's general manager, he disagrees with Baalke on pretty much everything, he clashes with team ownership and apparently, Harbaugh is just one of those guys that doesn't like to hang around one spot for too long.
For the record, Harbaugh makes $5 million per season after a lengthy courting period three seasons ago, and for the record, he and Baalke have worked together to take the 49ers to three consecutive NFC Championship appearances in his first three years with the team. He's also never had a bad word to say about Jed York or Baalke and the talk of him not wanting to remain in one place for too long just seems ... well, silly.
Now, as to what Harbaugh actually told SI: it was pretty much that above. He said that he has never asked ownership for more power, and that he gets paid plenty. He said over and over that he is getting paid enough, that he isn't worrying about a contract extension at this point and that there is no chance he leaves before his current contract is up.
On top of that, he said that some of his assistant coaches, notably defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, deserve pay raises -- all while once again saying that he does not need a pay raise himself. "I want to coach the team, and I've never told anybody else otherwise," Harbaugh said.
He also noted that there was never any opportunity for him to leave in reference to the rumors of a potential trade to the Cleveland Browns, saying, "If that existed, it existed in somebody else's mind, not mine. I am too fond of my team, the players, the coaches. I really feel like we have one of the best, if not the best organizations in football."
This all seems silly, though it's worth pointing out that some of the more level-headed writers out there have noted that this all wouldn't have come up if there weren't some elements of truth to it. This is just a theory, of course, but it stands to reason that two very strong, opinionated people like Harbaugh and Baalke would clash to some extent. It's more than believable to think that these two have had some extensive differences in opinion.
It would be shocking if those two agreed on everything. Perhaps some of those disagreements have been expanded upon by other parties, or perhaps this is all 100 percent true and Harbaugh's time in San Francisco is nearing its end. David Fucillo of Niners Nation is eager to get past this, and also took a look at the likelihood of Harbaugh signing an extension:
He closed by emphasizing once again that it is his principle not to negotiate contracts in the press. He made an exception in this case to clarify that he is not hungry for more money. I am sure he would be plenty happy to take a pay raise, but hopefully this will at least quiet down the speculation that columnists and PFT have focused on for ten days. I'm not exactly holding my breath, but at least we have Jim Harbaugh on the record.
We don't know what the future holds beyond 2015, and in reality this serves mostly to hopefully quiet things down for the coming season. I'm sure this will rear its head again at some point with another volley of anonymous comments. For now though, the 49ers can hopefully head into free agency with this headache at least temporarily shelved.
Here's what else you might have missed from Tuesday in the NFL:
Cornerback Brandon Browner was officially reinstated from his indefinite suspension from the NFL on Tuesday. Browner was originally suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy, after already being entered into the third stage of the program, which mandated the indefinite suspension. But Browner's team was prepared to file a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that he should never have been placed into that stage of the program due to the fact that original failed tests occurred when he was playing in the Canadian Football League. Browner is set to become a free agent.
Chargers make all kinds of moves
The San Diego Chargers were extremely active on Tuesday. First, the team restructured the contract of wide receiver Eddie Royal. The team reduced his cap hits for the next two seasons, but gave him more guaranteed money. That's a big deal for the team, given that they needed the space, and a good deal for Royal, who has a history of injury. San Diego also released three players -- cornerback Derek Cox, fullback Le'Ron McClain and cornerback Johnny Patrick. Cox is the only somewhat surprising move there, and even then, it wasn't that surprising. He had an extremely poor 2013 and has a high cap hit, the only reason it was at all surprising is that many believed he might be able to turn it around next season.
Both New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo aren't planning to sign their respective franchise tags any time soon. Orakpo is hoping to work out a long-term deal with the Redskins rather than play on the tender that would pay him $11.4 million in 2014. Graham, on the other hand, is dealing with a more difficult situation. He wants a long-term deal as well, obviously, but there's the big issue of whether or not he should be tagged as a tight end.
Canal Street Chronicles noted on Tuesday that the NFL came out and said that Graham should be tagged as a tight end, something that Graham will surely contest:
SB Nation NFL
SB Nation NFL
When the expected grievance goes before review, the Saints hope to persuade the System Arbitrator to find that, when Graham lines up in the slot or split wide, he's still participating in those plays as a tight end. Graham was used by the Saints almost identically to how the Falcons utilized tight end Tony Gonzalez, whose contract helped determine the price for Graham's franchise tag as a tight end.
This is an issue that has been lingering for the last few years, and the matter coming to a head this year will likely result in a much-anticipated resolution to set the precedent for similar cases moving forward. For now, however, over five million dollars could hang in the balance.
The Washington Redskins have to make a whole lot of changes to be in good shape regarding the salary cap in 2014. They got started with those on Tuesday, releasing five players. The biggest names were defensive end Adam Carriker and punter Sav Rocca. Carriker was scheduled to have a cap hit of $6.51 million and hasn't played in almost two seasons, while Rocca will be 41 this year and has been inconsistent in recent seasons. The other players were running back Jawan Jamison, running back Davin Meggett and tight end Richard Quinn.
Buffalo and Auburn were among those schools hosting Pro Days on Tuesday. The biggest name was Khalil Mack, who has emerged as one of the best defensive players in the draft. Mack had a solid 40-yard dash, and was the definite highlight for Buffalo. Dee Ford of Auburn matched Jadeveon Clowney's combine numbers and greatly increased his draft stock as well.
The Philadelphia Eagles released wide receiver Jason Avant on Tuesday. Avant has been with the team for the past eight years, but was due a $1 million roster bonus on March 15. Avant played plenty of snaps in 2013, but his production dropped big time this past season. He was set to be far back on the depth chart next season, though he also was a strong special teams player.
Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters signed a new one-year contract on Tuesday. He was set to hit the open market at the start of the new league year, but the Falcons didn't want to let him get away. He sustained an Achilles injury near the end of the 2013 season, but is expected to make a full recovery and at 25 years old, he seems to have a lot of football ahead of him.