Ravens’ Harbaugh proclamation feels more like an invitation

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The good news came in the curious form of a Friday evening bad-news dump. Out of the blue, just before 7:00 p.m. ET, the Ravens let the world know that their coach who is under contract through 2019 is under contract through 2019 and he will remain under contract through 2019.

Through 2019.

The statement was received by most as a definitive indication that John Harbaugh ain’t going anywhere, and that anyone who already had launched a back-channel chase for his services should check themselves, lest they wreck themselves with a tampering allegation.

But the confirmation of Harbaugh’s status nevertheless can be interpreted as an invitation. To make a call. To make an offer. To give the Ravens something of significant value for the coach whose name had emerged already as the most desirable horse in the looming carousel, even though he is under contract.

Through 2019.

“John Harbaugh will continue as our head coach for the 2019 season,” the statement announces, “and he and we are working on an extension to his existing contract, which expires after the 2019 season.”

That’s not celebratory; it’s perfunctory. It’s less proclamation and more admonition to not assume that Harbaugh will be available automatically, or that he’ll be easy to obtain.

It’s also designed to end the discussion and speculation, and in turn potential distraction, arising from Harbaugh’s uncertain status. Tonight against the Chargers, next week against the Browns, and into the postseason (if they make it) it will be repeated over and over again that Harbaugh will be back. Even if, in the end, he isn’t.

So what would another team give up for a coach who is under contract for only one more year? Well, remember when the Raiders got two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million in cash for Jon Gruden? Like Harbaugh, Gruden was under contract for only one more year.

So here’s what Friday night’s statement really means: (1) Harbaugh won’t be fired, regardless of the outcome of the balance of the season; (2) Harbaugh may or may not sign an extension with the Ravens beyond 2019, the terms of which likely will be determined by the outcome of the season; and (3) call us if you’re interested in perhaps offering him better terms than we will, if you’re also willing to compensate us handsomely for the rights to a coach who is under contract.

Through 2019.

28 responses to “Ravens’ Harbaugh proclamation feels more like an invitation

  1. Well I think it’s time for Tampa to relive the past and make an offer. They did it for JG and the win a SB. He can easily transfer over there and he could could take a familiar face w/him in Flacco. I think it’s safe to say the whole coaching staff and most likely the GM are all going to be packing their bags after the season. Winston isn’t the answer or security blanket anymore and they could easily sign Flacco to a deal while drafting the further QB (Grier) to learn from him for a bit. JH would get massive respect there while changing the culture and direction of the team. It’s TIME AGAIN for TB to hit the reset button!

  2. If this is accurate it could result in a very interesting two-step in Baltimore. Let’s say the Ravens actually want to fire him but want to parlay him into getting something for him. Let’s also say other teams aren’t going to bite. That could mean the Ravens have a head coach for 2019 that they would have rather fired at the end of the 2018 season. Would they let him coach in 2019 even though they’d rather have fired him? That could make for a very uncomfortable season.

  3. They will lose to the Chargers this weekend and may get swept by the Browns the following weekend. This team is not very good and by the end of the season Harbaugh will likely be the definition of average since making the SB and on to his 3rd straight early offseason
    There are much worse coaches in the NFL for sure. However, you have to produce to keep a job and Harbaugh has failed to do that at all over the past half decade.

  4. Hogwash. No team will give up anything of value to grab a coach like Harbaugh who is only one year out on his contract. Add to that the fact that, while he is a fundamentally good coach, he is years behind in philosophy and innovation. The current Ravens model will never be more than a .500 team. While I’m a big fan of defense and ball control, the league has evolved light years beyond that approach.

  5. So basically, the Ravens are fishing for extra draft picks for a coach they plan on firing, even though they just made an announcement that he is returning next year, got it.

    Like my father loved to say, “Make your actions speak so loud nobody hears a word you are saying” If the Ravens truly coveted Harbaugh as a head coach, they would sign him beyond next year. Since they have not, and are apparently not going to do so anytime soon, read what you want into the situation but if I were to place a wager, Harbaugh will be gone within 2 weeks of the season ending.

  6. Alternative explanation: There has been many articles speculating that Harbaugh will not return next season, including one this week by the Baltimore Sun’s columnist Mike Preston saying Harbaugh will not return even if the Ravens make the playoffs. The Ravens wanted to debunk all these speculations from “anonymous sources” now and thus stated that he will be back next season and that they (really) are working on an extension.

    Did it ever occur to you that things are going on exactly as the statement says?

  7. I tend to be less cynical, so I wonder if the statement says exactly what the statement means. Still doesn’t mean he will be back or that he won’t be someplace else, but it doesn’t mean it was the intent of the statement either. And I agree the team has been underperforming of late, and Harbaugh might be a little old school, but he is a pretty good coach who is handcuffed by a substandard franchise QB. I cut him some slack.

  8. Harbaugh is a good coach, who has done an excellent job of adapting and working with what he has this season to make it highly competitive. There are certainly teams that would want him as their HC, and would likely give up something to Baltimore to get him. Contract details, extensions, etc can always be worked out.

  9. What we have not heard, is any plausible, compelling case why another NFL would award compensation to the Ravens to take Harbaugh off their hands.

  10. Harbaugh would get the Andy Reid treatment if he was available and the Ravens know that. Are they going to get anything of substance for Harbaugh? No… Maybe a mid-round pick if they’re lucky… But the person who said, “Can they get someone better?” nailed it. No, they can’t…

  11. Why invent a conspiracy when there is no basis in fact for it? Take it as face value….Harbs will be back in 2019, and probably longer.

  12. So, in other words, nothing happened. Any team looking for a coach would have long known the contract status of any potential candidates.

  13. Ravens fans have backed Harbs all the way through and everyone I know is gonna keep backing him. He’s a super bowl winning coach and aside from that one year we are always in the mix. Owner is also playing the long game….after the Harbs era does end prospective coaches will remember that ownership didn’t go passive aggressive and instead publicly bet on their guy to close the season. What a boost of confidence.

  14. Harbaugh is a mediocre coach who had the benefit of a SB victory by riding a Ray Lewis dominated Defense beyond his control and understanding, and a QB on a legendary hot streak that was brought about by a fluke 4th and 29 and-a-half run by Ray Rice, and a massively misplayed jump ball by the Broncos. Nowhere in there do people remember the mismanaged clocks, timeouts, and red flags. The disgruntled ballers on the roster that were consistently shown the door since Harbaugh hates those guys. He coaches to mediocrity and achieves it. When you only aim to be the last wild card team , that’s all you’ll get – if you are lucky. And too many times they fell short by blowing games they “should” win and rarely winning games they “shouldn’t” win. He has no command of Offense or Defense and is strictly an average manager. He never molded Flacco out of mediocrity and the franchise suffered for it. He can beat it. No big loss.

  15. Well said, yyyass! May I add, it was Kubiak who was the brains behind the last Raven’s playoff team.

  16. It is interesting how everyone evaluates based on this season. People forget that the Ravens have the in injury train for the last several seasons. More people on IR than most and yet the team remains competitive. THAT is why you keep this coach. That said, get rid of Marty and promote Greg R to OC and THEN you win the SB. Right now the best we will probably get is to the AFC championship. Talent will take us that far but OC will stop us from the SB. Too bad b/c Ravens DO have the talent, just not the OC.

  17. Harbaugh is potentially about 27 hours from having his team eliminated for the fifth time in six years (including four straight).

    He may be a good coach and he may get a tonne of offers if he’s available but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t become stagnant in Baltimore.

    Look at Andy Reid in Philly, his time there ran it course, he went to KC and both teams were better the next year.

    And when push comes to shove this Ravens team hasn’t stepped up in a long time.

    2013 – Week 17 vs Bengals (win and in) who were resting people prior to wild card weekend – Ravens lost.
    2016 – Week 16 vs Steelers (win out and in) – Ravens squandered a 10 point 4th quarter lead as the defense surrendered three TD drives in the 4th.
    2017 – Week 17 vs Bengals (win and in) let the Bengals convert a 4th and long into a TD in the final minute and eliminate the Ravens.

    The Ravens might not be able to get a better coach but they may be able to get a better coach for them, especially because it looks like Lamar Jackson is on RG3 trajectory where he is good for a season then gets ruined by injuries.

  18. RG3 wasn’t ruined by injuries, he was ruined by his own ego. RG3 thought he was Aaron Rodgers according to Mike Shanahan. He had to explain to RG3 that learning the drop back passing game takes time and until he learns he has to run the option to keep defenses off of him. RG3 didn’t listen, didn’t want to run the option anymore, and so he drove his career in to the ground.

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