Jon Gruden

NFL: Raiders Complied With Rooney Rule

When the Raiders seemingly agreed to hire Jon Gruden without interviewing any other candidates, black or otherwise, many wondered if the team would face sanctions for violating the Rooney Rule. The NFL investigated the matter and concluded on Friday that the team did comply with the rule, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Jon Gruden (vertical)

The ruling is sure to draw eye rolls from many around the game. In Gruden’s introductory press conference, owner Mark Davis insinuated that he had reached agreement with the coach on Christmas Eve. Two minority candidates Oakland tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin – were technically interviewed before Gruden signed a contract, but it seems that the job was already taken by the time they met with team brass in the New Year.

I felt pretty confident that he was all-in,” Davis said of the Dec. 24 discussion. “And that’s the term that we were using in our discussions and everything, are you all-in? And I never wavered from all-in. And this time he didn’t waver, either.”

First implemented in 2003, the Rooney Rule stipulates that at least one minority candidate must be interviewed for all head coach or senior football operations positions in the NFL. It’s possible that there will be changes to the rule in response to the Raiders’ conduct.

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Raiders Notes: Gruden, Bennett, Cable

On Friday, the Raiders announced the hiring of Rams quarterbacks coach Greg Olson as the team’s offensive coordinator. The 31-year NFL veteran coach, and Raiders offensive coordinator from 2013-14, won’t have to worry about calling plays. That duty instead will go to new head coach Jon GrudenBen Volin of the Boston Globe notes.

Gruden, who hasn’t coached in the NFL in nine seasons, has been preparing for the moment he would return to the sidelines for some time. He reportedly spends countless hours studying NFL and college plays and is expected to work closely with Derek Carr and the other Raiders quarterbacks.

Though he spurned advances for a role with Gruden, former quarterback Rich Gannon has full confidence that the former Super Bowl-winning coach won’t skip a beat.

“Jon has a system where he’s really going to count on the quarterback to be a big decision maker. He’s going to have a lot more flexibility and freedom at the line of scrimmage to change protections, to change plays. It’s going to be a fun offense to watch. He’s got a quarterback that can do it. That’s a big reason why he decided to come back.”

From the sounds of it, Carr will have more responsibility than ever before as he hopes to rebound from a disappointing 2017.

Here is more news from Oakland:

  • Gruden interviewed one person for the vacant offensive line coach position and had another meeting set up for Monday but dropped everything once the Seahawks fired Tom Cable, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reports (Twitter link). After being fired as head coach in Oakland in 2010, Cable moved to Seattle and served as offensive line coach for seven seasons. Under his direction, Seattle established itself as one of the best running teams in NFL. His return could reunite him with Marshawn Lynch, should the Raiders retain the veteran back.
  • The Raiders continued to clean house on former head coach Jack Del Rio‘s staff, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). Among the expected departures are cornerbacks coach Rod Woodson, running backs coach Bernie Parmalee, assistant special teams coach Tracy Smith, wide receivers coach Rob Moore and safeties coach Brett Vieselmeyer.
  • Former Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett didn’t have to wait long to find a new gig. He will be joining the Raiders as the team’s new receivers coach, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports (Twitter link). A former Packers running back, Bennett has spent 23 of his 25 seasons in the league as a player and coach in Green Bay.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Broncos, Dolphins

Now that newly-hired Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has begun filling out his staff, a lot of his work will now shift to the personnel side of the franchise. Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Journal-Review previewed many of the decisions that Gruden and the front office will have to work through this offseason.

Gehlken starts by stating that the team is likely to move on from number one wide receiver Michael Crabtree and cornerback Sean Smith. Releasing both players would save money and allow the team to continue to get younger at both positions.

However, a more difficult decision may lie with soon-to-be 32-year-old running back Marshawn Lynch. His salary will jump from $1.35MM to $4MM in 2018. On March 18, he will receive a $1MM roster bonus if he is still on the roster. Lynch’s season was rather inconsistent and running backs that play into their 30’s don’t have the best track record, but it would still be difficult to move on from a talent like Lynch.

“You know, I’ve never met Marshawn Lynch,” Gruden said. “Even as a broadcaster, I asked for Marshawn Lynch in production meetings and I never got to meet him. So I’m anxious to sit down with Marshawn and meet him. We’ll talk about his future and the Raiders. I can’t wait. He came back to the Raiders for similar, I think, reasons that I did.”

In recent seasons, the Raiders have used free agency as a primary source of getting key players, and while the defense has been arguably the main area of concern, Gehlken passes along that Gruden is also is looking to bring new ideas to the offensive side of the ball.

“We are going to have to look at our roster carefully and see, do we have a fullback? Who is the feature back? Who are the receivers?” Gruden said Tuesday. “A lot of things have to be determined, and I think you have to have an offense that is adaptable, that is versatile and can adjust to a number of certain areas. That is what we need to do. Get through today, lock the doors and get to work.”

Here’s more stories from around the AFC:

  • In news from another AFC West club, the Broncos recently inked former head coach Gary Kubiak to a larger front office role. However, Kubiak could still draw interest from teams looking for a new offensive coordinator, speculates Mike Klis of 9News. Though Klis mostly shuts down that notion because the former Super Bowl winning coach is currently under contract for one more year in Denver, which would force a prospective team to pay up a draft pick in order to pry him away.
  • The Broncos also have a decision to make regarding star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The 30-year-old pass catcher has two years remaining on his current deal should his $4MM option for next season be picked up before the first day of the 2018 league year, reports Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post (Twitter link). However, if the Broncos do decline the option, the final two years would voided and he would become a free agent this offseason. This would also result in $3.1MM of dead money. His salary figures for the next two years are $12.03MM and $17.5MM, respectively. The Broncos need to get younger at the wide receiver position and could be served well letting Thomas walk as he enters the wrong side of his 30’s.
  • The Dolphins offensive line could undergo somewhat of a makeover this offseason and one part of that could come from one of their veterans switching positions. Ted Larsen played in the team’s final eight games at left guard after missing the first half of the season with an injury. However, the 30-year-old would like to switch to right guard in 2018, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Larsen told Jackson “That’s my preference, I played there since 2014.” Jackson notes that fellow starting guard Jesse Davis has shown no reservations about changing roles, so it’s a real possibility that Larsen could have his wish granted in training camp. Although, the writer did add that the team will likely bring in some competition through the draft or free agency. Miami is also not likely to hold onto right tackle Ja’Wuan James for his $9MM 2018 salary figure. Veteran tackle Jermon Bushrod was injured at the end of the year and will be a free agent this offseason as well. This could open up a spot for a prospective high round draft pick with the Dolphins currently holding the 11th overall selection.

Did Raiders Follow Rooney Rule?

Did the Raiders violate the Rooney Rule with the hiring of Jon Gruden? That’s what the Fritz Pollard Alliance is asking the NFL. Jon Gruden (vertical)

As soon as we learned of the reports, we formally requested that the NFL thoroughly investigate the matter to conclusively determine whether the Rooney Rule was violated — and if it was violated, to impose an appropriate punishment,” Fritz Pollard Alliance counsel Cyrus Mehri and N. Jeremi Duru said in a statement.

During Gruden’s introductory press conference, owner Mark Davis said that he spoke with Gruden on Christmas Eve – while Jack Del Rio was still employed as the head coach – about returning to Oakland. No deal was signed at that point, but Davis intimated that an agreement was in place. This all took place more than a week before any minority candidate was interviewed for the job.

I felt pretty confident that he was all-in,” Davis said. “And that’s the term that we were using in our discussions and everything, are you all-in? And I never wavered from all-in. And this time he didn’t waver, either.”

The Raiders technically did interview a pair of black coaches in Oakland tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin and they feel that is enough to satisfy the Rooney Rule. However, Davis’ comments could be damning, because he appears to be saying that the Gruden hire was already a done deal before they met with GM Reggie McKenzie.

If the NFL finds that the Raiders were in violation of Rooney Rule procedure, the Raiders could face hefty fines and/or the forfeiture of draft picks.

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Gruden, GM Share Raiders Roster Control

Earlier this month, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie turned down an opportunity to interview for the Packers’ GM vacancy. That was our first indication that McKenzie would maintain at least some control over Oakland’s 53-man roster, despite the arrival of Jon Gruden as head coach. Reggie McKenzie (vertical)

At Tuesday’s introductory press conference for the new (/old) head coach, Gruden confirmed that the two will “work together” to make roster decisions. McKenzie, meanwhile, was upbeat about the new arrangement.

Since taking over as Raiders GM in 2012, the team has gone a combined 36-60, including three seasons with four victories or less. But, in 2016, the team turned a corner and made the playoffs with a 12-4 record. The Raiders fell short this year, but they still wanted to keep the 2016 NFL Executive of the Year in the fold.

McKenzie and Gruden both say they’re excited to collaborate on building the team, but it will be interesting to see how well the two men will handle roster disagreements. McKenzie has been at the helm for five years, but one has to wonder if the $100MM man will have the upper hand on most matters.

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Raiders Hire Jon Gruden As Head Coach

It’s officially official. The Raiders have announced that Jon Gruden is their new head coach. They’ll (re) introduce Gruden to Oakland media in a Tuesday press conference.

 

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NFL: Raiders “Complied With” Rooney Rule

We have now learned that the Raiders have hired Jon Gruden to come back to the organization that traded him. Although, prior to the decision being announced, the NFL made a statement regarding the team’s following of the Rooney Rule, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). League spokesperson Joe Lockhart stated that, “We believe the Rooney Rule was complied with. Minorities candidates were interviewed. We’ll see what decision they make.”

Mark Davis (vertical)

There had been some questioning coming from around the NFL that the Raiders were clearly violating the spirit of the rule given there all-in pursuit of their former head coach. It was reported yesterday that the team had interviewed tight ends coach Bobby Johnson for the position, but it did not seem like a legitimate interview because it was widely known that the Raiders were after the former Monday Night Football analyst.

The Rooney Rule makes it so at least one minority candidate must be interviewed for all head coach or senior football operations positions in the NFL. It was first implemented back in 2003 in order to promote diversity among NFL front offices and coaching staffs. However, it’s clearly been just a hurdle for teams to get over in multiple cases, including this one.

Clearly the Raiders did interview a minority candidate as a means to comply with the rule, and at this point the league appears to be satisfied with how the franchise conducted the search. We’ll have to wait and see if the NFL makes any changes to the rule moving forward, but this news has made clear that a team can do the bare minimum to comply without any punishment.

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Raiders To Name Jon Gruden As Their Head Coach On Tuesday

The worst kept secret in football is about to go public. The Raiders will name Jon Gruden as their head coach in a press conference on Tuesday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The news was first reported by author Steve Corkran (Twitter link). Jon Gruden (vertical)

Recently, Gruden admitted there is a “good chance” that he’ll become the next coach of the Raiders. However, he denied reports indicating that he will wind up with a piece of team ownership as part of the deal. Even without minority ownership, this is a colossal deal for Gruden. It’s a ten-year contract likely to be worth about $100MM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

The sum of Gruden’s contract is jaw-dropping, but he provides a great deal of value to the Raiders outside of football. His presence will keep the fanbase in Oakland engaged for the next two years before the move to Las Vegas. Once they arrive in Nevada, Gruden’s popularity could boost ticket sales and the value of local media rights packages.

From a football perspective, Gruden offers familiarity with team ownership and a winning pedigree. It’s also an opportunity for the Raiders to rewrite history. Under Gruden, the Raiders reached the playoffs twice, ascending to the AFC Championship game in the 2000 season before their heartbreaking loss to the Patriots in the following year. In 2002, the Raiders traded Gruden to the Buccaneers for a whopping package that included two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8MM in cash. That season, of course, gave us the Gruden Bowl. Gruden’s Bucs blew the doors off of the Raiders and won by a score of 48-21.

One can’t help but wonder how the late Al Davis would feel about all of this. The Raiders owner always had a pension for defying popular thought, but his reluctance to dole out exorbitant salaries to coaches is what led to Gruden’s departure in the first place. Fifteen years later, Gruden is back in Oakland with a record-breaking contract.

Unlike the Cardinals, Bears, Lions, Colts, and Giants, the Raiders did not cast a wide net in their coaching search. This week, the team interviewed incumbent tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and met with one other unknown candidate to fulfill the Rooney Rule. With that obligation out of the way, the Raiders are set to announce the signing of the only coach they were ever interested in hiring.

Already, Gruden’s staff is taking shape. The Raiders will hire Rams quarterbacks coach Greg Olson as their offensive coordinator and former Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther as their new DC, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). And, as previously reported, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will be moving from Dallas to Oakland.

The deals for each coordinator will be four years in length, giving them two years in Oakland and two years in Las Vegas, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The deals will also be backloaded in order to capitalize on the absence of state income taxes in Nevada, Michael Gehlken of the Journal-Review tweets.

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Coaching Rumors: Bengals, Cowboys, Colts

A roundup of the latest coaching news and rumors from around the NFL:

Jon Gruden: “Good Chance” I’ll Be Raiders’ Next Coach

This is as close as we’ve gotten to a confirmation. On Wednesday, Jon Gruden told Mike Golic and Trey Wingo of ESPN (video link) that “there’s a good chance” he’ll accept the Raiders head coaching job, if it is offered to him. Jon Gruden (vertical)

[RELATED: 2018 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker]

The Raiders are one of six teams in the NFL in search of a new head coach, but unlike the Cardinals, Bears, Lions, Colts, and Giants, the Raiders have not reached out to multiple candidates. As far as we know, Gruden is the only candidate on their radar. It’s quite possible that the the two sides have a handshake deal and the only thing standing in the way of a signed contract could be the Rooney Rule. If the Raiders interview a minority candidate today or tomorrow, they could finalize Gruden’s return to Oakland.

it was previously reported that Gruden would be receiving a piece of team ownership in the deal, but Gruden adamantly denies that being the case.

[There’s] no ownership; that’s for sure,” Gruden said.

If there is no ownership stake included in the deal, then it is safe to assume that Gruden will be among the league’s highest paid coaches when he puts pen to paper.

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