NFC Notes: Gruden, Thurmond, Bears, Hardy

When Paul Domowitch of wrote on Thursday that Jon Gruden had expressed interest in the Eagles‘ head coaching job, it seemed like the sort of report that would get denied almost immediately. Domowitch himself said Gruden’s interest was conveyed “through an intermediary,” which would give the former Raiders and Buccaneers head coach plausible deniability. So it’s no surprise that Howard Eskin of FOX 29 tweets that he received a text from Gruden saying he’s “not interested” in the Philadelphia job.

So what to make of the various reports on Gruden? It wouldn’t surprise me if, as Domowitch reported, the Monday Night Football analyst did reach out to the Eagles through back channels. Does that mean he wants the job, or that he’s actively pursuing it? Maybe not — if he did reach out, Gruden could have been simply kicking the tires on the opening, getting a sense of what sort of candidate owner Jeffrey Lurie is seeking. If Lurie wants a less-established coach, one who won’t make a play for Howie Roseman‘s power like Chip Kelly did, then perhaps Gruden isn’t a fit in Philadelphia.

It’s possible that at some point Gruden will head back down to the field from the broadcasters’ booth and return to coaching, and the Eagles’ job may be one that interests him. But over the years, we’ve seen him leverage the possibility of returning to head coaching into what is reportedly the highest-paid contract for an ESPN broadcaster, and he seems satisfied with his MNF gig. So I’d be surprised if there’s enough mutual interest between Gruden and the Eagles to make this the head coaching position he finally takes.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Considering they still need to hire a head coach and make a decision on Sam Bradford‘s future, the Eagles have more pressing issues to address than Walter Thurmond‘s situation. Still, as Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer outlines, the club will have an interesting call to make on Thurmond, who is eligible for free agency after playing surprisingly well as a safety in 2015.
  • Don’t expect the Bears to make one giant splash in free agency this offseason, writes Jeff Dickerson of As general manager Ryan Pace explains, the club prefers to spread out its resources on several different players in free agency. “You kind of limit your risk a little bit when you do that,” Pace said. “I think last year there might’ve been a little more one-year deals than we would typically do just because I think part of that is, hey, we’re just getting here, we want to evaluate our team, these one-year deals give us a little bit of flexibility. But I don’t like to put all our eggs in one basket in free agency.”
  • After staunchly defending Greg Hardy and insisting the team wanted to extend the defensive end earlier in the 2015 season, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones sounds far less committed to Hardy these days, as Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk details. Jones’ comments on Hardy come via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News.
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