Owner Mark Davis will attempt to lure Jon Gruden back to the Raiders and is prepared to make an offer so enticing this could finally be the offseason when the Super Bowl-winning coach leaves the booth to return to the sideline, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported Saturday night.
Gruden, of course, in his first NFL head-coaching stint led the Raiders to a pair of division titles over four seasons from 1998-2001 prior to Al Davis trading him to the Buccaneers. But ESPN cites a source claiming Mark Davis has long had an “affinity” for Gruden, and the owner, who's sought bringing back Gruden before, is again prepared to offer the “Monday Night Football” analyst an ownership stake to land him.
"I don't want to sit here and speculate. ... There is no news to report," Gruden said Saturday, via ESPN. "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."
Mark Davis ultimately hopes Gruden will help Davis’ Raiders and young franchise quarterback Derek Carr rebound from a 6-9 campaign that began with Super Bowl aspirations one season after going 12-4 and snapping a 13-year playoff drought.
And according to the report, in addition to the presence of Carr and Mark Davis’ potential offer including a stake in the club, potentially helping to persuade Gruden’s return to a franchise he never wanted to leave is the allure of Las Vegas, where there’s no state income tax, and the power to restructure the front office and staff as Gruden sees fit.
The report indicates Gruden doesn’t want to make any decisions prior to the Raiders’ finale Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers, after which Mark Davis must officially decide on the fate of Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio was given a four-year contract extension through 2020 after last season and shares an agent — Bob LaMonte — with Gruden, a “sensitive situation,” as one source described to ESPN.
Gruden, who last coached in the NFL with the Buccaneers in 2008, has entertained calls and meetings with teams over the past few years, including with the Colts last offseason. He’s also made inquiries about putting together staffs in the past, as he’s done again recently, in the event the right situation presents itself.
According to ESPN’s report, a return to the Raiders could be the right situation.