John Harbaugh has a myopic focus this week: Beating the the Los Angeles Chargers in the first round of the AFC playoffs.
So, it’s been an exercise in futility trying to get him to comment about his future with the franchise.
Here are the topics Harbaugh will gladly discuss with the media:
Harbaugh will talk all day about the X’s and O’s of football.
Here are the topics sure to catch the coach’s ire:
— His potential contract extension
— The overall future with the franchise
— The advantage/disadvantage of facing the Chargers twice in 11 days
— Any comparison questions
So, any discussion about the direction of the Ravens for the 2019 season and beyond will have to wait. Nonetheless, the uncertainty will simply not go away even though the focus is winning a playoff game.
Prior to the previous game against the Chargers, the Ravens released a statement saying: “John Harbaugh will continue as our head coach for the 2019 season, and he and we are working on an extension to his existing contract, which expires after the 2019 season.”
While the timing of that statement was curious, it put to bed earlier reports that Harbaugh and the Ravens had mutually agreed to part ways after this season.
However, the vote of confidence did not deter speculation about Harbaugh’s future with the club. When asked whether he had reflected on the team’s announcement, Harbaugh simply responded: “No, I haven’t.”
This led to more speculation about his future.
Last week, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, said teams would be willing to trade draft picks to pry Harbaugh away from the Ravens. “There are teams right now that are having internal discussions about calling the Ravens to try to trade for John Harbaugh,” Glazer said.
Mike Florio, of ProFootballTalk, wrote Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos would be the favorites to offer a trade for the coach. NBC Sports columnist Peter King alleged Harbaugh might not be interested in signing an extension with the Ravens.
“I believe he wants to stay in Baltimore but wouldn’t be heartbroken if he had to move on,” King wrote. “He’s probably worth more elsewhere, so I think it’s legitimately possible he coaches out his contract in Baltimore in 2019. And I don’t think it would bother him very much to do so.”
Some pundits have implied there is friction between Harbaugh and incoming general manager Eric DeCosta. However, a club official dismissed those reports.
After the Ravens beat the Browns to win the AFC North, Harbaugh was pressed again about his future with the club and whether early questions about his job security were bothersome. Once again, he reiterated that he is just focusing on the moment, the next game and not his long-term future.
“You just try to do your job,” Harbaugh said. “Everything else is just outside stuff. It’s not something you can control anyway, so you don’t worry about it. I love these players, I love these coaches, I love this organization. I love our owner. I love our scouting staff. Top to bottom, I love them all. It’s a great team to be a part of. That’s what you think about.
“All this stuff that’s written … I mean, most of it is wrong anyway. It’s disproven. I wish we could go back and just parse all of that and keep a record of some of that stuff. But, there’s always fair evaluations; there are fair observations there, too, and you understand that. You recognize that, whether you’re a player or a coach; I think you get it. You just try to do the best job you can and don’t worry about it the next day.”
So, the debate will rage until there is some clarity with the situation. Much of the uncertainty should be cleared away at the annual “State of the Ravens” shortly after the 2018 season is in the books.
Until then, all of the speculation about Harbaugh’s future is just outside noise … and that’s how he will continue to treat it.