The Los Angeles Chargers finally landed NCAA champion head coach, Jim Harbaugh. The social media team posted pictures, letters, and, as usual, memes, to announce his hiring. Moreover, they also shared an interview clip, where he was wearing team merchandise, and talked about how much he feels at home with the Chargers.
However, the most significant event regarding Harbaugh's hiring is his introductory press conference on Thursday, February 1st at 1:00 pm PT at YouTube Theater, located next to SoFi Stadium.
The introductory press conference signifies a special moment for every new head coach and general manager in the NFL since it's generally the first time they speak to the broad national media. They touch on their reasons for joining the franchise, and their plans for the upcoming season.
This includes roster decisions, salary cap, coaching staff composition, the Draft, and offensive and defensive game schemes. Joe Hortiz, the new Chargers' general manager, would also appear Thursday alongside Harbaugh and the Spanos family.
3 things to watch for in Jim Harbaugh's Chargers press conference:
Harbaugh & Hortiz's approach to the Chargers salary cap issue
With the Chargers $45 million above the salary cap, Harbaugh and Hortiz will make difficult roster decisions in the upcoming weeks. It will be interesting to listen to their approach, which could go all the way from trading back in the draft, to releasing veteran players, and/or contracting restructuring. Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Joey Bosa, and Khalil Mack have the highest probability of being traded or cut to release cap space, considering their high salary and on-field value. Moreover, current free agent RB Austin Ekeler is not expected to be back.
Daniel Popper, The Athletic's Chargers insider, agrees that Harbaugh will address the cap issue on Thursday. Despite having the option to cut all of the aforementioned players, or restructuring their contracts, Popper argues the Chargers will end up in the middle ground. They would do a mix of both, and also cut veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks.
The Chargers' strategy with the 5th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft
The Chargers are in a great spot with the Draft's 5th overall pick, as they won't select a franchise quarterback. They could either select the best player available, or determine where in their roster to add pieces. Malik Nabers (WR, LSU), Brock Bowers (TE, Georgia), and Rome Odunze (WR, Washington) could land as potential 1st round picks.
However, The Sporting News' latest mock draft has the Chargers selecting Illinois DT Jer'Zhan Newton, given Harbaugh's familiarity with the Big Ten conference and the team's interior front need.
Harbaugh and Hortiz could instead decide to trade back if there's still the chance to get a high-end first-round pick, in addition to having more draft picks. The Broncos and Vikings might be interested in doing that, given Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins' uncertain contracting situations.
As with the OC vacancy, Harbaugh will only give us clues as to what he would do in the Draft, especially since he may not have enough time to talk to Joe Hortiz until Thursday's event.
The Chargers' offensive coordinator vacancy
The Chargers will officially have a new offensive coordinator after the Philadelphia Eagles hired Kellen Moore as their new OC. Although Moore could have stayed in Los Angeles, the front office wants to provide head coach Jim Harbaugh a staffer of his choice and address some of the 2023 failures, like the poor running game and offensive line.
Some of the candidates include former Ravens OC Greg Roman, former Stanford HC & OC David Shaw, and current Eagles' senior offensive assistant and former Colts' OC Marcus Brady. The Chargers have only requested an interview with Marcus Brady.
Though unlikely that Harbaugh will announce his offensive coordinator on Thursday, he could hint as to who will be by setting his offensive expectations. He might want to run the offense around Justin Herbert, or be looking for a more balanced passing and running game system.
Though Harbaugh's teams don't rely exclusively on their quarterbacks, he has continuously praised Herbert both privately and publicly, calling him "a great quarterback" and feeling "starstruck" after meeting him for the first time as Chargers HC. It's worth noting that Michigan's Jesse Minter will be the new Chargers' DC.
You can watch Jim Harbaugh's introductory press conference live on Thursday at 1:00 pm PDT on the Chargers YouTube page, and look for details on what he and Joe Hortiz will do with the roster, offensive coordinator vacancy and the 5th overall pick.