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CloseESPN Senior Writer ESPN NFL Insider Joined ESPN in 2009 Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books
CloseNFL reporter ESPN Senior NFL Analyst
Joined ESPN in 1991
George Polk Award winner; Twice nominated for Pulitzer Prize
Oakland is preparing to pursue ESPN analyst Jon Gruden with an offer so strong it could even include an ownership stake in the Raiders, according to league sources.
Gruden will be tempted to accept it, according to sources, but would prefer not to make any decisions until the regular season finishes Sunday and the Raiders make a final determination on their current head coach, Jack Del Rio, who signed a contract extension last summer.
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 tax, as he does now in Florida, where he currently lives. Gruden’s contract even could be backloaded to pay him more in the Nevada years and lessen his tax burden during the Oakland ones.
Raiders owner Mark Davis has offered Gruden an ownership stake in the past, according to sources, and if he were willing to do so again, the contract then would have to be approved by all 32 NFL owners. The NFL’s finance committee also would have to vet Gruden, but there is no reason to think it would not approve the deal.
Jon Gruden’s contract would have to be approved by all 32 NFL owners if the Raiders were to include an ownership stake in a potential offer. Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images
Even if it didn’t for some unforeseen reason, Gruden’s contract could be negotiated in a way that would pay him a commensurate amount if fellow owners or the finance committee did not approve the deal.
But these are not expected to be issues that would impede the deal. There are, however, other complications. Del Rio’s agent, Bob LaMonte, also represents Gruden, leading to what one source described as “a lot of sensitive situations.” Plus, Gruden has been unpredictable before and when some thought he could make the jump to the NFL, he didn’t.
But this time, Gruden would be given enough power in Oakland to be able to reshape the front office, coaching staff and entire organization, though there still are some holdovers from when he coached there.
Gruden declined to specifically comment about the Raiders.
“I don’t want to sit here and speculate. … There is no news to report,” Gruden said Saturday. “I can’t say I haven’t taken any phone calls. I take a lot every year from coaches, some others. … Yeah, sometimes owners. Guys want to bounce ideas off me. I’m here to help people.”
Another source close to the situation said Mark Davis always has held Gruden in high regard, from the time he coached Oakland from 1998-2001, until long after the time that Davis’s father, Al, traded Gruden to Tampa. Gruden was in the booth for his final Monday Night Football game of the season last week in Philadelphia, when the Eagles hosted Davis’ Raiders.
“The owner,” one source said about Davis, “has an affinity for him.”
And Gruden still has an affinity for coaching. As successful as he has been as an ESPN analyst, providing color commentary for Monday Night Football and helping create Gruden’s Quarterback Camp annual specials, many around the league believed it was only a matter of time before he returned to coaching. More and more, it looks as if this is it.
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.
Just last year, the Indianapolis Colts met with him and the Raiders have made other attempts in other years at bringing back Gruden, who still is beloved in the Bay Area.
Pegging landing spots for Gruden from year to year has become a sport within the sport, but multiple people believe it is different this year. One source close to the situation said he expected Gruden to return to coaching in 2018. Others predicted Gruden would wind up with the Raiders.
But Gruden continues to insist that it is nothing more than talk, as there has been talk in other years about his possible return that didn’t come to pass.
But this year does seem to be different. This year, there are many sources who believe the Raiders are preparing to make another offer so enticing that it will be difficult for Gruden to turn down.
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Via:: NDTV – Sports