Jon Gruden coached in Oakland for four good years, leading the Raiders to four consecutive .500-or-better seasons, including two playoff appearances and an AFC Championship game. In the 16 seasons since the franchise traded him to the Buccaneers, the Raiders have had four .500-or-better seasons, and two playoff appearances. You can kind of see why they might want him back! And boy do they appear to want him back, according to an ESPN report from Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen:
The Oakland Raiders are preparing to pursue ESPN analyst Jon Gruden with an offer so strong it could even include an ownership stake in the team, according to league sources.
For all of Gruden’s prestige as an analyst and Super Bowl-winning head coach, it might be surprising to recall that he hasn’t coached in the NFL in a decade, that he really only had two especially good seasons in Tampa Bay, and that one of those seasons was spent coaching a team that had been raised up from the mud by his predecessor, Tony Dungy. Following the Super Bowl run of his first season in charge, the Bucs never won another playoff game under Gruden. An ownership stake, and the seniority bestowed by such a thing, is a lot to offer a guy whose best coaching days largely passed before I was old enough to buy my own drinks!
Then there’s this: hiring a head coach is a personnel decision, subject to very limited interference from the outer NFL, whereas bringing on a new partial owner requires the explicit approval of 31 other NFL franchise owners:
An ownership source said owners might not be so quick to approve the deal, because they wouldn’t want to establish a precedent. The NFL’s finance committee also would have to vet Gruden, and it would be that body, along with input from several owners, that would be responsible for raising an objection to an ownership clause.
That’s a hurdle that Schefter and Mortensen say could be circumvented by creative salary structure. Gruden has a sweet gig with ESPN, watching tape with draft prospects and bringing his Jack Burton routine to national broadcasts. He’s been linked with other teams in the past, and even with the Raiders. But this might be a real thing. Chucky might be returning to Oakland:
But Oakland long has appealed to Gruden for a variety of reasons: He would return to an organization he didn’t want to leave in 2001; he would inherit a young quarterback in Derek Carr whom he feels strongly about; and he would get to coach a team that is slated to move in 2020 to Las Vegas, where he would not have to pay state income tax. Gruden’s contract even could be backloaded to pay him more in the Nevada years of the deal and lessen his tax burden during his years in California.
Gruden recently has been calling assistant coaches around the league, trying to piece together a staff, though he has made calls in other years and never acted upon any of the opportunities that have come his way.
It seems certain that current Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is a dead man walking. A pursuit of a replacement this public, and this committed, seems like an irreconcilable development. Good thing Del Rio and Gruden have the same agent! I’m sure that doesn’t make things awkward at all.