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NFL teams doing homework on Jim Harbaugh as potential head coaching candidate 

After he interviewed for the Vikings’ head coaching job last winter, Jim Harbaugh said he was closing the door on a possible return to the NFL.

The NFL, it seems, isn't ready to close the door on Harbaugh.

Sources say multiple NFL teams have been doing background work recently on Harbaugh, who led Michigan to the Big Ten championship and locked up a College Football Playoff bid with Saturday's 43-22 win over Purdue.

One NFL source plugged into the situation said they believe Harbaugh would consider a return to the NFL, and a source with another team that could be running a head-coaching search said they believe Harbaugh would discuss an opening if asked and weigh the right situation.

Harbaugh, 58, would be as accomplished as almost any head coaching candidate in the upcoming NFL hiring cycle. He was 44-19-1 as the 49ers' head coach from 2011-14, leading San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game three times, and an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII.

Harbaugh returned to his alma mater after parting ways with the 49ers and has led Michigan to five double-digit win seasons in eight years, including a 12-2 record and a College Football Playoff semifinal trip last season and now a 13-0 run with another CFP trip on deck next. (Perhaps most important to Wolverines fans, they've beaten Ohio State in consecutive seasons, too.)

While NFL interest has been rumored for years, Harbaugh didn't formally interview for another head coaching job until the 2022 hiring cycle, when the Vikings spoke to him once virtually and again for nine hours in-person on Feb. 2. They never offered Harbaugh the job that ultimately went to Kevin O'Connell, who has led Minnesota to a 9-2 start, with a chance to clinch the NFC North title today with a win over the Jets and a Lions loss or tie to the Jaguars.

Getting Harbaugh to the NFL surely wouldn't be cheap. Michigan reworked Harbaugh's five-year deal in February, putting him under contract through the 2026 season and guaranteeing he will make more than $7 million annually, with a chance to make millions more with performance bonuses.

"Ultimately, I decided this is where I wanted to be," Harbaugh told reporters in March. "And really, a lot of gratitude for that."

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