Jon Gruden

‘Many Expect’ Jay Gruden To Eventually Join Raiders?

Jay Gruden became the first head coach fired in 2019 when the Redskins canned him last week, but he probably won’t have too difficult of a time finding a new job. Gruden is a highly regarded offensive mind despite Washington’s struggles, and is respected across the league. 

It also doesn’t hurt that Gruden’s brother, Jon Gruden, is currently the head coach of the Raiders. To that end, “many expect” that Jay will “resurface next season” as a member of Oakland’s staff, writes Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. We heard recently that Gruden is expected to take the rest of this season off from coaching, so this lines up with that. The same report indicated Gruden will hunt for a head coaching job next offseason, but if he strikes out on that then the Raiders look like a likely destination.

Interestingly, Schefter points out that the Raiders never hired a quarterbacks coach this offseason, and that Gruden sliding into that role “could be the perfect move” as the team prepares to move to Las Vegas. Gruden still had another year left on his Redskins contract that he’ll presumably be getting paid for, so he won’t be in any rush to take an undesirable job.

The Gruden brothers have worked together before, as Jay served as an offensive assistant under his older brother in Tampa Bay for seven seasons. Gruden eventually landed the gig as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, where he impressed with his ability to coax strong performances out of Andy Dalton. He got the Redskins job after that, and spent five-plus seasons in the nation’s capital before getting fired. Jon recently declined to comment on the possibility of reuniting with his brother.

Antonio Brown Recorded Jon Gruden With Consent

It seems that Antonio Brown‘s pseudo-commerical – featuring sound bites of a phone conversation with Jon Gruden – was part of his social media campaign to push the Raiders for his release. It was speculated that Brown recorded Gruden without his consent, which would open the wide receiver up to legal consequences and NFL discipline. 

Apparently, that’s not the case. The producer of the video tells ESPN’s Dan LeBatard that Gruden approved the use of their conversation (Twitter link).

This would help to explain why Gruden reportedly thought the video was “awesome,” though Brown was released hours after its release. Apparently, this was not the straw that broke the camel’s back, probably because there were many other straws that infuriated the Raiders far more.

Brown, the newest member of the Patriots (somehow), has himself a one-year deal worth up to $15MM, plus a 2020 club option that could be worth $20MM. Here’s the Year One breakdown, per Rapoport (Twitter link): $9MM signing bonus ($5MM paid now, $4MM later), $1MM base pay, $500K in46-man roster bonuses, and “Not Likely To Be Earned” incentives of $1.5MM for each of the following: 105 catches, 1,298 yards, 16 TDs.

Given Brown’s ability and past production, those benchmarks are far from “not likely.” However, for cap purposes, they are designated as NLTBEs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Raiders, Antonio Brown

Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown and GM Mike Mayock got into it this week, and details of the argument are starting to emerge. At some point during the exchange, Brown cursed out Mayock and called him a “cracker,” according to ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson

It was previously reported that Brown also threatened to punch Mayock in the face and punted a football during the exchange. After sending the ball into the sky, Brown told the GM, “Fine me for that!” Mayock, it seems, is ready to take things a step further by suspending the mercurial star, which would put his ~$30MM guarantee in jeopardy.

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, admits that Brown’s relationship with Mayock is not a great place. Meanwhile, he insists that Brown is on good terms with head coach Jon Gruden.

Right now I think (Antonio Brown’s) relationship with Coach Gruden is good, very good. I’m not going to get into his relationship with Mike Mayock, but I will say that we’re hopeful that that will be a good one, as well. It has been in the past,” Rosenhaus said in an interview on ESPN.

The Raiders are reportedly set to suspend Brown, but nothing has officially happened on that front.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AB Notes: Gruden, Guarantees, Personal Conduct Policy

Following a chaotic day in Oakland, head coach Jon Gruden finally had a chance to address the Antonio Brown fiasco.

“Like I said, I’m not going to get into all of this,” Gruden said (via ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez). “Obviously, he wasn’t here today and when we have some information for you, we’ll give it to you. …I’ve been talking about the same guy every day.

“…I’m emotional about it, I hope you understand why. I think a lot of this guy. I think Antonio is a great receiver, and deep down I think he’s a really good guy. So, I’m frustrated, I’m not going to say anything more about it, hope it all works out. But I don’t have anything official to say about anything else, until I get all the facts and that’s what I’m going to do.”

At the very least, Gruden will have to prepare for Monday night’s season opener without the star receiver. We learned earlier this evening that the team was proceeding as if Brown won’t be available for Week 1.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Oakland…

  • We learned earlier that the Raiders could suspend Brown with the intention of voiding his more than $30MM in guarantees. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reviewed the receiver’s contract, and he notes that Brown’s behavior (and subsequent fines) already put him in default. Since he left training camp and later missed a walkthrough, the organization would already have the right to void the guarantees. In other words, if the team is done with Brown, a suspension wouldn’t have to precede his inevitable release.
  • If it’s true that Brown threatened to hit general manager Mike Mayock, then the receiver could also face discipline under the NFL Personal Conduct Policy (per Florio). It sounds like Brown couldn’t be suspended for the same violation by both the organization and the NFL, although Florio notes that the Raiders could justify some other reason for banning the wideout.
  • Agent Drew Rosenhaus talked to Stacey Dales on NFL Network, and colleague James Palmer snagged a couple of the soundbites (via Twitter). “I believe he wants to be an Oakland Raider,” Rosenhaus said. “I believe he wants to play. I believe he’s going to have a great season.” The agent also said he’s having ongoing negotiations with the team, but there’s no real timeline for a resolution.
  • Florio also got quotes from Rosenhaus (via PFT’s Michael David Smith): “I think there’s been a lot of speculation. The reality is that we’re still talking through many scenarios. There has yet to be a suspension. Nothing is final yet. I’ve been in touch with Coach Gruden, Mike Mayock. We’re doing our best to work this out. Trying to keep this relationship moving in a good direction again.”

Jon Gruden Defends Antonio Brown

We heard Friday that new Raiders receiver Antonio Brown is expected to rejoin the team shortly, a report that came on the heels of a great deal of Brown-related drama this week. We learned that the foot injury that has been plaguing Brown stemmed from a cryogenic chamber mishap, and we also learned that Brown has been staying away from team practices after being barred from wearing the helmet that he has used throughout his career.

After Oakland’s preseason victory over the Rams last night, head coach Jon Gruden was predictably asked a series of questions about Brown’s status, and Gruden was 100% supportive of his enigmatic superstar. He said (via Grant Gordon of NFL.com), “[w]e’re gonna support him. And whatever his decision is, we’ll stand by it. But we’re confident he’s going to be a huge factor for the Raiders for years to come.”

Gruden also indicated that the foot injury, which was said to be a result of Brown’s failure to wear proper footwear when he underwent cryogenic therapy, was not actually AB’s fault. Gruden said, “I don’t know what anybody’s writing or anybody thinks, but this foot injury wasn’t his fault. This was a total accident. It really wasn’t his fault and it’s a serious injury. I know some people are smarting at it, but it’s really not a laughing matter. The guy was hurt. He’s innocent, he didn’t do anything wrong.”

With respect to the helmet issue, Gruden added, “the helmet thing is a personal matter to him. He has a strong feeling about what he’s worn on his head and we’re supporting him. We understand the league’s position as well, so we’re in a tough spot. And we hope Antonio is back here soon, because he’s exciting to be around. I’m excited. I got some plays for him, I hope we can start calling them.”

A ruling on Brown’s grievance against the league is expected to be issued soon, but if Brown is forced to wear a different helmet, he will try to hold the league liable for any head injury he may suffer, as a source with knowledge of the hearing tells Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. The source said, “I think it’ll be interesting if the NFL forces Antonio to wear a different helmet. And he does play and he doesn’t retire as some people have reported he will do. And then he suffers a really severe injury. I’d hate to be the NFL. Because now you’ve forced him into wearing a different type of helmet. And I think at that point, though, the liability will be dramatic.”

Of course, the NFL wants Brown to play in a helmet that is believed to be more resistant to head injuries than the one he has always worn, so it seems that the league would have a strong argument if Brown was made to switch and suffered a head injury. On the surface, it sounds like it would be difficult for Brown to prove that the change was a proximate cause of any injury he may sustain.

Nonetheless, Brown is pulling out all the stops to get what he wants, and Gruden and Raiders fans will just have to continue to hope that he shows up soon.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, the team could force the issue by sending Brown the notorious five-day letter (which, as the name implies, would require Brown to return within five days of the letter). If he doesn’t return, the Raiders would be able to shut him down for the season and absolve themselves of any obligation to pay him, but given Gruden’s comments, it does not sound as if Oakland is preparing to take such an aggressive stance at this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Isaiah Crowell To Visit Raiders

The Raiders have made some splash moves in free agency but still have openings at running back. Isaiah Crowell will make a trip to Oakland as a potential solution, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Jon Gruden, in particular, wants the Raiders to sign Crowell, Rapoport adds. So this partnership appears to have a good chance of happening. Crowell’s visit, his first in this free agency period, will occur Thursday.

The Jets released Crowell earlier this offseason, doing so after one season. Crowell did well on a per-carry basis in New York, matching his career high with 4.8 yards per carry. But the Jets gave the 2018 free agent acquisition a career-low 143 carries. Crowell, 26, finished with 685 yards. The Jets replaced him with Le’Veon Bell, who was also on the Raiders’ radar. Although, the Silver and Black did not appear to make a serious run at the longtime Steeler.

Crowell has 27 career rushing touchdowns and surpassed 850 ground yards in his final two Browns seasons, doing so despite the team often trailing in a 1-31 stretch.

Marshawn Lynch‘s status with the Raiders is up in the air, and despite Gruden indicating he was in favor of a Doug Martin return, that has not come to fruition. Jalen Richard has yet to sign his second-round tender, but the fourth-year passing-down back doing so would appear likely. DeAndre Washington remains on the team as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Marshawn Lynch, Raiders

The Raiders are still waiting to see how veteran running back Marshawn Lynch recovers from his groin injury to decide if they bring him back in 2019, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch writes

Lynch, who will turn 33 before the 2019 season kicks off, is expected to have more of an interest in returning to his hometown team now that the team will for sure be playing their games in the Bay Area. Head coach Jon Gruden said the decision is one that will likely play itself out before the draft.

“I think the coming weeks will give us a better indication where is physically,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 agenda. We have to find out officially how he has responded to the injury. We’ll know something here in a couple of weeks.”

Though his season was cut short by that groin injury, Lynch still managed to average 4.2 yards per carry while gaining 376 yards on the ground. The five-time Pro Bowl selection ranks 29th all time in rushing yards and 16th in rushing touchdowns.

The Raiders are sure to be in the market for a running back as both Lynch and Doug Martin are free agents heading into 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jon Gruden Discusses Raiders’ Plans For Draft, Free Agency

The Raiders are armed with three first-round picks heading into April’s draft, providing the organization with plenty of flexibility. Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock will have to decide how they’ll want to use their early-round picks, but it sounds like the team is certainly open to making some deals.

“I think there’s a lot of potential for trades, and I think that’s one of the things I’m excited about [with] Mike Mayock,” Gruden said during his appearance on “The Game Plan” podcast on the Raiders Podcast Network (via Raiders.com). “What he brings to the table, he’s got great resources around the NFL. He’s been in every building, he’s on a first-name basis, everybody knows Mike and I think he’s going to be on the phones quite a bit with the two picks you talked about. Who knows, we may move up with the No. 4 pick, we may move back with that pick. We’ll see how it all unfolds.”

In the first round, the Raiders have their own pick (#4), the Bears’ pick (#24), and the Cowboys’ pick (#27). Otherwise, the team has seven selections between the second and seventh round.

Of course, the organization is also focused on free agency. While Gruden seemed to indicate that the team will be active, he also cautioned that they’ll be targeting a specific grouping of players.

“We’ve been doing nothing but studying free agents,” Gruden said. “Guys [whose] contracts are up, obviously we aren’t looking to add players that are at the end of their career. We’re looking for blossoming young players, those guys usually don’t get to free agency. The pickings are slim for everybody, but there are a couple diamonds in the rough. We’ll see where the market goes, but you don’t want to spend all your money that you have on a few free agents, you want to try and keep some of that money available in case a trade might develop during the draft.”

After signing a 10-year, $100MM contract last offseason, Gruden’s team disappointed during his first season at the helm. The team ultimately finished the season 4-12, their worst showing since 2014.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Gruden, Raiders, Rams, Browns, Chiefs

Jon Gruden seemed to indicate the Raiders wouldn’t be overly aggressive in free agency this offseason during a recent podcast interview, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports. “Obviously, we’re not looking to add players at the end of their career. We’re looking for blossoming young players. Those guys usually don’t get to free agency, so the pickings are slim”, Gruden said, adding “we’ll see where the market goes, but you don’t want to spend all the money you have on a few free agents. You want to try to keep some of that money available in case a trade might develop during the draft.” Gruden separately again emphasized the possibility of making a trade, saying “I think there’s a lot of potential for trades.”

Here’s more from around the league on this Friday night:

  • The Rams are making another change to their coaching staff. So far this offseason they’ve lost Zac Taylor to the Bengals, promoted Jedd Fisch and Shane Waldron, and hired Wade Phillips’ son Wes to be their tight ends coach. Now, they’re hiring away Eric Henderson from the Chargers to be their new defensive line coach, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Henderson had been serving as an assistant defensive line coach with the Chargers. Before that, he had been an assistant with Oklahoma State. The Rams haven’t made any announcement, but Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic was able to confirm that their incumbent defensive line coach, Bill Johnson, won’t be back with the team next year (Twitter link).
  • Browns receiver Antonio Callaway had his marijuana charge from last October dropped recently, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Callaway had maintained all along that he had no idea the small amount of marijuana was in his car, and apparently he was right. Callaway had previously tested positive at the combine before he was drafted, so his citation turned into somewhat of a big deal.
  • Earlier this week, we heard that the Chiefs intended to franchise tag pass-rusher Dee Ford. The team could be facing a fight with Ford though over which position he’ll be classified as, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Ford has played outside linebacker in old defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme, but Ford is a pass-rusher first and foremost and will want to be classified as a defensive end for tagging purposes. As Florio points out, because the tag is valued based on what the top players at a given position are being paid, it’s the difference of several million dollars. Newly-hired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo runs a 4-3 defense so Ford will be a defensive end in 2019 anyway, but Florio writes that Spagnuolo intentionally declined to talk specifics about positions in his defense during recent comments to reporters, perhaps because of an impending battle between Ford and the club.

London A 2019 Option For The Raiders?

With the Raiders’ relationship with Oakland dissolved and a year left before they can complete their move to Las Vegas, the team is broaching out-of-the-box options for home games in 2019. One of those options could include playing in London, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer (Twitter link). 

Glazer called the potential move “out of left field,” but mentioned that other owners have discussed the possibility with the team. The NFL has long toyed with the possibility of a franchise calling London home, and this would be the greatest test run the league could hope for.

What the move would look like for scheduling purposes is yet to be determined, but it is sure to be a hectic travel situation with the team playing its games in the AFC West. One possibility that Glazer mentioned would have the Raiders playing four consecutive home games, followed by four straight road contests.

One person who would not be happy with playing the games in London would be Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, according to Des Bieler of The Washington Post. When the team played the Seahawks in London this year, the coach said:

“I get claustrophobic. My son was a weightlifter, and he won a powerlifting competition in Belarus. I had to fly 14 hours. I had to fly home 14 hours. I had vertigo for a month. I couldn’t even lay down, the house was spinning. I am hoping I don’t get vertigo. I’m not a great traveler. I’ll be honest with you. I hate it. I’m not good. I’m concerned. I’m more worried about that than our goal-line offense right now.”

Though it may seem like an outside shot, the fact the Raiders have discussed the move with other owners suggest the team is seriously considering the move and would have approval from at least some of the 31 owners needed to make the move. The team has also been linked with a host of other locations, including Levi’s Stadium and AT&T Park.