In January, the NFL filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, putting the matter on hold until a decision was rendered. That motion has been denied, as noted by Tashan Reed of the Athletic.
Other than the attempt to have the suit dismissed, the league also moved to have the case brought to arbitration. On both counts, the Nevada court denied those motions, meaning that either a settlement or trial will be the ultimate outcome of this case.
The 58-year-old sued the league and commissioner Roger Goodell in November, alleging that the leaked emails he sent to Bruce Allen were made public as a deliberate tactic to end his career. Remarks similar to the ones contained in those messages, the league stated in its response to the suit, were found in emails sent to “a half dozen recipients over a seven-year period”.
Gruden resigned in October after the release of those emails, which dated back to his time at ESPN and were examined as part of the wider investigation into the Commanders’ workplace culture. The league has consistently denied that they are responsible for the leak, arguing that the Raiders had cause to terminate his contract. This news clears a path for the case to be heard in open court, though that may not happen anytime soon.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter) that the league will appeal the court’s decision to deny their motions. At a minimum, doing so will further delay the process by which the matter is resolved. Gruden himself, meanwhile, made a very brief remark after the hearing was over.
“I’m just going to let the process take care of itself” he said. “Go Raiders.”
When Saints’ former head coach Sean Payton retired, he left the door open for a return. Although he made it clear that he has no intention of coaching during the 2022 NFL season, Payton didn’t rule out a return later on.
“My plans are not to be coaching in 2022,” Payton said. “I still have a vision for doing things in football and, I’ll be honest with you, that might be coaching again at some point.”
Because Payton is under contract with the Saints through the 2024 NFL season, this “mini-retirement” means that whichever team wants to sign him for the 2023 season will have to negotiate with the Saints to do so. Even though Payton told radio personality Dan Patrick that he heard two teams reached out through back channels, those channels never reached Saints’ general managerMickey Loomis, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. This means that whatever the level of interest those two teams had, it didn’t rise to the point where they were ready to talk compensation.
The most recent example would be when the Buccaneers pulled Bruce Arians out of his recent retirement from coaching the Cardinals three seasons ago. This is a precedent the Saints’ would stray away from as Arians lack of success in Arizona led to the Cardinals essentially nudging him into retirement. When the deal was made to send Arians to Tampa Bay, the Cardinals received a sixth-round pick and gave the Buccaneers Arians and a seventh-round pick.
Payton is currently considered in much higher demand than Arians was at the time. Mortensen laid out three past transactions that he considers a little more on par with Payton’s current value. The most pricey example was about 20-years ago when the Buccaneers gave the Raiders two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8MM cash in exchange for Jon Gruden, who lead his new team to a Super Bowl victory over his old team. The Gruden deal differs a bit from the Arians deal because Gruden wasn’t thinking of retiring and there was really no threat to his job. Raiders’ owner and general manager Al Davis had some questions over Gruden’s value, but there was never talk that his job was in jeopardy.
Another similar deal came back in 1997, when Bill Parcells decided he didn’t want to coach for the Patriots anymore. Parcells’ contract restricted him from coaching anywhere else, so the Jets attempted to circumvent the restriction by hiring a key Parcells’ assistant, Bill Belichick, as their head coach and hiring Parcells as an “advisor.” After the Patriots threatened legal action, the commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, helped the two sides come to an agreement wherein the Patriots would send Parcells to the Jets in exchange for a first-, second-, third-, and fourth-round pick (spread over the following three years). Even though this deal doesn’t include any “mini-retirements,” it follows the current situation a little more closely than the Gruden deal.
Belichick’s return to New England had a very similar ring to his arrival in New York. After the Jets arranged for Belichick to succeed Parcells as head coach, Belichick went to his press conference and, instead of introducing himself as the new head coach, he introduce his resignation from the franchise. The Patriots soon requested permission to interview Belichick to replace Pete Carroll, but the Jets pulled the reverse card and demanded compensation, as Belichick was still under contract. Tagliabue stepped in, once more, and the Patriots sent New York a first-round pick in exchange for the coaching rights of Belichick.
All these examples, despite their different situations, provide a basis for the Saints to use in determining what they think they are due when another team inevitably comes calling. As a Super Bowl champion and long-tenured head coach, Payton is sure to fetch quite a price for whichever team decides to hire him.
Harbaugh is currently negotiating with Michigan after he led the Wolverines to their first College Football Playoff appearance and their first outright Big Ten Championship since 2003. He had signed an extension at the start of the season to secure him in Ann Arbor through 2025, but, with mounting interest from the Raiders, the negotiations are giving Michigan a chance to convince him to stay. The Raiders are searching for a new general manager as well as head coach, following the departures of Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden. Harbaugh isn’t the only target in Vegas, though. He’ll have to compete with interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who, despite a season of turmoil, led the Raiders to a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Jerod Mayo and DeMeco Ryans have also been mentioned as candidates.
Rhule’s interest in heading back down to the college ranks of coaching have not quite been a secret. Sources have informed La Canfora that Rhule was watching the situations at Penn State and LSU closely, in case a beneficial opportunity presented itself.
Rhule got his first head coaching opportunity at Temple in Philadelphia, where he had spent years as an assistant under Al Golden. He took his first Power 5 opportunity as the head coach at Baylor, following the scandal that led to Art Briles‘s dismissal. He took the Bears from 1-11 in his first season to 11-3 in his third season and rode that success straight to the NFL.
There are still many situations that need to play out. Harbaugh would have to leave Michigan. Rhule would have to decide to put his name in the ring for the vacancy at Michigan. Michigan would have to determine that Rhule is the best candidate for the position. None of this is guaranteed, but, if it all plays out, look for Carolina to be added to our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.
The case of former Raiders HC Jon Gruden‘s lawsuit against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell has taken another turn. The league has filed for the suit to be dismissed, according to a report from Daniel Kaplan of the Athletic.
Kaplan notes that the league has actually moved for the case to be taken to arbitration in Nevada state court first, and asked for it to be dismissed pending its decision on arbitration. The league’s written response to Gruden’s suit states that “Gruden sent a variety of similarly abhorrent emails to a half dozen recipients over a seven-year period” besides those sent to former WFT president Bruce Allen. Like those emails, which led to Gruden’s resignation in October, these other ones “denounced `the emergence of women as referees,’ and frequently used homophobic and sexist slurs to refer to Commissioner Goodell, then-Vice President Joseph Biden, a gay professional football player drafted in 2014, and others”.
The response also comments on claims alleging the league leaked the damning emails as a way to get revenge against Gruden due to his remarks against the commissioner. As reported by Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, the league responded that Gruden “primarily assumed the risk that his emails could be circulated beyond the original recipient group, and possessed and distributed by the WFT, NFL and others”. It continues, “to be sure, the NFL and the commissioner did not leak Gruden’s emails”.
The motion details how Goodell had grounds to fire Gruden outright, given the fact that the nature of his emails were detrimental to the league. For that reason, it states, no one at the league office had a motivation to “publicly sabotage Gruden’s career”, as the original lawsuit claims. Instead, it argues, the suit “should be dismissed in its entirety”.
No further developments (such as if the case will proceed to court) will be able to take place until the aforementioned arbitration decision is made.
“Through a malicious and orchestrated campaign, the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell sought to destroy the career and reputation of Jon Gruden, the former head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” the lawsuit states.
Signed to a 10-year, $100MM contract in 2018, Gruden resigned last month after multiple publications reported he used racist and misogynistic language in emails to former Washington team president Bruce Allen. This included (and was not limited to) crude remarks about Goodell, gay NFL players, female referees, and Washington cheerleaders.
“When their initial salvo did not result in Gruden’s firing or resignation, defendants ratcheted up the pressure by intimating that further documents would become public if Gruden was not fired,” the lawsuit stated. “They followed through with this threat by leaking another batch of documents to the New York Times for an October 11, 2021 article. On October 7, 2021, Jon Gruden was the head coach of the Raiders on a 10-year, $100-million contract. By October 11, 2021, he had been forced to resign.”
Gruden, 58, returned to coaching in 2018 after 10 years as an ESPN analyst. The NFL has not released any emails from the Washington Football Team investigation, and the league said no other violations were found on the level of Gruden’s comments. Gruden filed the suit in Nevada state court, Ferrara adds. The NFL called Gruden’s allegations “meritless,” Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.
The NFL’s recent email scandal will end with Jon Gruden, according to a league source who spoke with Barry Wilner of the Associated Press. Gruden, of course, resigned on Monday after his emails made national news.
“The NFL did not identify any problems anywhere near what you saw with Jon Gruden,” said the AP’s source.
Gruden’s missteps were uncovered as a part of the league’s investigation into the Washington Football Team. Independent investigations have reportedly scoured through 650,000 emails in total, leaving many to wonder whether Gruden was just the tip of the iceberg.
Meanwhile, ex-Washington exec Bruce Allen would be subject to further investigation if he tries to return to the league, per the source. Right now, it’s hard to imagine Allen in a front office position, so that’s pretty much a moot point. The emails he received from pal Jeff Pash — the league’s top lawyer — were deemed “appropriate” and “in a different category” from Gruden.
The NFL has no current plans to release the full ~650K batch of emails, despite NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith‘s repeated requests.
As a result of Jon Gruden‘s resignation, the Raiders will, of course, have plenty of difficult decisions to make this offseason, including how to fill their head coaching position. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, owner Mark Davis will assemble a small group of advisors to assist him with his HC search, which should yield a number of high-level candidates. Popular names from recent coaching cycles like Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Bills DC Leslie Frazier, and Iowa State HC Matt Campbell are just a few of the possibilities.
Davis will also discuss with his advisors whether GM Mike Mayock — who will now have a 51% say in roster decisions — should remain with the club. If Davis is able to lure a sought-after head coach, such a person may not want to partner with a holdover GM, but Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal believes Davis will legitimately consider retaining Mayock (Twitter link).
More out of Las Vegas:
We recently explored the topic of how much money remained under Gruden’s contract with the Raiders and if Gruden would be entitled to any of that amount. The assumption was that Gruden and Davis had worked out some sort of severance package, but according to Rapoport, a settlement has not yet been reached. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe confirms that the contract was heavily backloaded, and that Gruden has received less than 30% of the $100MM to which he would have otherwise been entitled.
Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Davis — who Rapoport says delivered an upbeat, positive message to his club on Wednesday — is nonetheless furious with the league office for what he believes is a hit job. Davis reportedly thinks that the league office was intent on forcing Gruden out, and that it was responsible for the leaked emails to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal that triggered his resignation.
Davis’ ire is enflamed by the fact that those emails stemmed from an investigation into a different team (the Washington Football Team) that went back over a decade, an investigation that has not resulted in any punishment for WFT executives or officials. The NFL has denied involved in the NYT and WSJ stories, but Davis is said to be mulling a lawsuit.
For what it’s worth, Volin believes the leaked emails were indeed a hit job, but not one ordered by the league office. On Thursday, the NYT and WSJ independently published stories detailing embarrassing emails that the league’s No. 2 exec, attorney Jeff Pash, sent to former WFT president Bruce Allen. While those emails were not as provocative as the ones Gruden sent to Allen, it is unlikely that the league would intentionally shame one of its own top officials. Instead, the leaks might have come from someone connected to the WFT investigation who was unsatisfied with the results.
The Raiders saw significant turnover on the O-line this offseason, and as a result of veteran departures, injuries, and poor performance, the unit has been a disappointment in 2021. Former center Rodney Hudson, who was traded to the Cardinals in March, actually requested his release after Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown were traded, as Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes. Ultimately, Vegas — which was apparently shocked by the request — was able to swing a deal with Arizona, but it would probably like to have its Pro Bowl pivot back in the Silver-and-Black.
In the wake of Jon Gruden‘s resignation as the Raiders’ head coach, more items related to his departure continue to trickle out. With respect to Gruden’s contract, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes that the ex-HC’s 10-year, $100MM accord might have been backloaded, which means he could have left even more money on the table than initially believed (he was in the fourth year of that 10-year pact). Florio says it’s likely that Gruden and the team agreed upon some sort of severance package, but a fight over Gruden’s considerable unpaid salary could be in the offing if there was no such agreement.
For instance, if Gruden’s resignation was not a voluntary one, he could theoretically file a grievance and argue that he was constructively discharged without cause. If his grievance were successful — a dubious proposition, given that it would probably be heard by commissioner Roger Goodell — he would be entitled to all remaining guaranteed money on his contract. Of course, it has previously been reported that not all $100MM was guaranteed, and between that and the optics and likely outcome of a grievance, it would seem that Florio is correct in his assumption that the contractual matter has already been resolved. But because Raiders owner Mark Davis is believed to be perhaps the most cash-poor owner in the game — though the club’s move to Las Vegas is expected to be a boon for Davis in that regard — the details of a resolution or lack thereof are worth considering.
Meanwhile, Adam H. Beasley of Pro Football Network confirms (via Twitter) that OC Greg Olson will become the team’s offensive play-caller moving forward, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Gruden’s son, Deuce Gruden, will remain Las Vegas’ assistant strength and conditioning coach. We had already learned that special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will take over the head coaching role on an interim basis.
It appears that, shortly before his resignation, Jon Gruden told his team that he had made a number of disturbing statements. One Raiders player, speaking anonymously, said, “when we met [on Monday] we were moving on to the next game-Denver. This news now is just shocking. At the same time, he told us he said a lot. On one hand I knew it was some foul stuff, on the other hand, we know the man we work with every day” (via veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson on Twitter).
At this point, it’s difficult to imagine Gruden obtaining another NFL-related position down the road, but if there are enough people who feel like the anonymous Raider, it may be a possibility.
Following a college coaching career that spanned almost 20 years, Bisaccia joined the Buccaneers (alongside Gruden) as their special teams coordinator in 2002. He won a Super Bowl during his first season with the organization, and he later took on the role of assistant head coach in 2009 and 2010.
He spent a pair of seasons with the Chargers before a five-year stint as the Cowboys special teams coordinator and assistant head coach. Following Gruden’s hiring by the Raiders in 2018, Bisaccia joined the organization in the same roles.
The 61-year-old doesn’t have any NFL head coaching experience, but he’ll have some experienced assistant coaches that he can rely on. Adam Caplan points out on Twitter that offensive coordinator GregOlson will be capable of running the offense moving forward. Offensive line coach TomCable can also provide some guidance, as he served as the Raiders head coach from 2008 to 2010.
Jon Gruden has notified his staff that he’ll be resigning as head coach of the Raiders, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). Gruden also met with MarkDavis to inform the owner of his decision (per Pelissero).
The resignation comes in the wake of a weekend Wall Street Journal report that detailed Gruden’s use of a racial trope to describe NFLPA Executive Director DeMauriceSmith in old emails. Then tonight, the New York Times published a damning report that cited more emails showcasing the coach’s use of derogatory and offensive language. This included (and was not limited to) crude remarks about commissioner RogerGoodell, gay NFL players, female referees, and Washington cheerleaders. The emails in question were sent to former Washington executive BruceAllen, and the league was only aware of the emails because of the previous investigation into the Washington Football Team.
That WSJ report was published on Saturday, and despite the negative reaction, Gruden was still allowed to coach during the Raiders loss to the Bears yesterday. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), the NFL had forwarded the Raiders the emails that were cited in tonight’s NYT article, and the league was waiting for the organization to react. Per Jason La Canfora (on Twitter), the league was ready to step in if the Raiders didn’t punish their head coach.
It’s a remarkable and swift fall for Gruden, who was on the fourth year of a 10-year, $100MM contract he signed with the Raiders in 2018. Gruden wasn’t able to guide the Raiders to the postseason during his three full seasons with the organization, going 19-29 and peaking with an 8-8 season in 2020. The Raiders were 3-2 through the first chunk of the 2021 campaign.
“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden said in a statement (via Vic Tafur of The Athletic on Twitter). “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
Gruden got his first head coaching gig in Oakland in 1998, and he was at the helm of two playoff teams during his four-year stint. He joined the Buccaneers via an iconic trade in 2002, and he won a Super Bowl during his first season with the organization. Gruden would ultimately spend seven seasons in Tampa Bay, and he turned to a high-profile TV gig after getting fired by the Bucs in 2009.