ESPN analyst Jon Gruden is one of the hottest names in coaching rumors, being linked to virtually every potential vacancy in the college and NFL ranks. This year, Gruden has been linked to the University of Arkansas and Tennessee in the NCAA while being tied to virtually every team in the NFL that might change coaching staffs in the NFL. Gruden sternly denies any interest to return to coaching, stating that he is happily employed at ESPN. On Tuesday, Gruden was linked to another NFL team, his former franchise, the Oakland Raiders.
Dan Bernstein reported on Twitter yesterday that the Raiders are in talks to bring Jon Gruden back to the Bay area to coach the Raiders. “@Hub_Arkush of @ProFootballWkly just told @Boers_Bernstein that Jon Gruden and the #Raiders are in talks to bring him back to Oakland.”
Yes, the Raiders are struggling this season under first-year head coach Dennis Allen. Oakland’s rushing offense has struggled this season with injuries to Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. The Raiders defense has been ranked near the bottom of the league in most categories.
The news linking Gruden to the Oakland Raiders comes as quite a surprise, as the Raiders have not been linked to any possible coaching changes this offseason. Ironically, Gruden was in Oakland this past weekend, lighting the Al Davis memorial flame prior to the Raiders-Saints game.
Last week, Gruden was linked to a possible job at the University of Tennessee with the possibility of receiving a stake in the Cleveland Browns. The Browns, and eventually Gruden, denied the rumor.
If Gruden is indeed going to return to the sidelines, he’ll have his pick of teams. He will command a monster contract and likely is not looking to return to coaching with a team that is in rebuilding mode. It’s possible that the Raiders spoke to the Raiders, if he is interested in a return to the coaching ranks, every bit of interest-real or perceived, from other teams will help to drive up his asking price.
I could see Gruden landing in a place like San Diego, Philadelphia or Dallas, but I really don’t see the Raiders abandoning Allen after just one season while having to pay both Gruden and Allen in the coming years. Raiders fans would likely welcome Gruden back, but I wouldn’t get hopes up.