Jon Gruden

Mark Davis Drove Raiders’ Derek Carr Call?

The Raiders’ Derek Carr decision has become this week’s top NFL storyline, and it sets up an interesting trade market for a player who has been loosely involved in trade rumors for years. It may not have been Josh McDaniels‘ decision to move in this direction. At least, not right now.

McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler met Monday and Tuesday nights discussing their quarterback plan, and while a benching was mentioned as a possibility, Vic Tafur of The Athletic views it as likely McDaniels and Ziegler were planning to keep Carr as the team’s starter to close out the season. Mark Davis looks to have played a role in the decision that led to Jarrett Stidham being announced the starter and Carr leaving the team for the time being, Tafur adds (subscription required).

[RELATED: Where Will Carr Play Next Season?]

Carr has played for four six Raiders HCs, counting interims Tony Sparano and Rich Bisaccia, over his nine-year career. The GM that drafted Carr, Reggie McKenzie, extended him at $25MM per year during the 2017 offseason. While the Jon Gruden period brought steady trade rumors, the Raiders hung onto their starter. Carr became the longest-tenured starting QB in Raiders history and now owns the team’s all-time passing records — by a substantial margin.

McDaniels and Ziegler extended him this year, albeit with the much-discussed February escape hatch, but interviews with the ex-Patriots duo and other GMs this offseason curiously did not feature the Raider interviewers discussing Carr in a positive light. Coaching and GM candidates were surprised to hear Raiders officials’ Carr assessments during the job interviews, according to Tafur, who adds Davis has been lukewarm on the starter for a long time. Davis and former Raiders VP of player personnel Ken Herock led the coach-GM search this year, and the owner ended up letting McDaniels and Ziegler make the call on Carr.

The new Raiders power brokers settled on the half-measure extension — a three-year, $121.4MM deal that includes the out three days after Super Bowl LVII — and it looks like the parties will aim to capitalize on the narrow trade window. They will explore doing so despite Davante Adams seeking a trade to Las Vegas to reunite with Carr. If Carr goes, it will be interesting to see how Adams’ Vegas future unfolds.

The Raiders taking the opportunity to make the $40.4MM bonus — Carr’s full 2023 base salary and $7.5MM of his 2024 base pay — another team’s responsibility would cost them barely $5MM in dead money. That is quite the low sum associated with dealing a quality starter less than a year after the extension ink dried, but Carr agreed to the terms and landed a no-trade clause. That will protect the three-time Pro Bowler, who should have options once trade talks commence.

Davis was in place as the team’s owner when McKenzie drafted Carr 36th overall in 2014, and after several post-Rich Gannon misfires by the organization, Carr offered stability — albeit without giving his team a top-tier option under center — and durability. He has only missed two career regular-season games, but it looks like the owner is ready to move on. Carr’s inability to lead a game-tying drive against the Bengals in the wild-card round last season gnawed at Davis, per Tafur, despite the quarterback piloting four straight wins to help Bisaccia become the rare interim coach to lead his team to the playoffs. Bisaccia received consideration for the full-time gig, but Davis passed, leading the longtime special teams coach to Green Bay.

Carr remains a Raider partially because Gruden backed out of the Tom Brady pursuit two years ago, leading to some colorful Brady language re: Carr. Gruden viewed Brady as too old at that point, Tafur adds. Brady was preparing for his age-43 season at that point, and although the Raiders joined other teams in being connected to the legendary signal-caller, he ended up deciding between the Buccaneers and the Chargers. It is not certain the Raiders would have beaten out the Bucs for Brady’s services, but with McDaniels now running the show, look for Brady — ahead of an age-46 season he is not a lock to pursue — to be connected to the Raiders again.

House Oversight Committee Concludes Investigation Into Dan Snyder, Commanders

The House Oversight Committee’s 14-month investigation into Dan Snyder and his franchise has led to multiple other ongoing probes, which have produced the loudest noise about a potential Commanders sale. The Oversight Committee’s investigation is now complete, with a final report surfacing Thursday.

The report accuses Snyder of permitting and participating in a longtime toxic workplace culture and obstructing the Committee’s investigation. In addition to dodging a Committee subpoena this summer, the Commanders owner is accused of making an effort to intimidate and dissuade witnesses from testifying. Snyder, 57, also offered hush money to several former Washington employees during Beth Wilkinson’s NFL investigation last year, according to the Committee.

Thursday’s report also links Snyder and the Commanders to playing the lead role in the fall 2021 email leak that led to Jon Gruden‘s Raiders resignation. Former Washington team president Bruce Allen said Lisa Friel, the league’s special counsel for investigations, indicated the email leak came from Snyder’s franchise and not the NFL, according to the report. Dan Snyder’s wife, Tanya, who had taken over the franchise’s day-to-day operations after Wilkinson’s investigation last summer, said at the October 2021 owners’ meetings neither she nor her husband was behind the leaked emails, per the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala, Mark Maske and Liz Clarke. Gruden has since sued the NFL, which had previously denied being behind the leak. Thursday’s report marked a key development on that front, among others.

Allen also informed the Committee that Snyder had spoken about hiring private investigators to gather intel on Roger Goodell. Reports of Snyder obtaining damaging information on Goodell and other owners started a firestorm at this latest set of owners’ meetings, which featured Jim Irsay championing an unprecedented ouster of an NFL owner and saying 24 votes to remove Snyder might be there. Shortly after Irsay’s comments, the longtime Washington owner denied hiring firms to gather dirt on other owners.

The Committee accused the NFL of assisting Snyder’s franchise in covering up Wilkinson’s report. The league is believed to have initially called for a written report to be released but later reversed course. Last year’s NFL investigation brought a $10MM Snyder fine and a de facto suspension, but Snyder is believed to no longer be under any restrictions regarding his role with the Commanders. No summary of Wilkinson’s findings led to the Oversight Committee probe and another NFL investigation. Mary Jo White’s inquiry is set to come with a report of the findings.

We saw efforts that we have never seen before, at least I haven’t,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, the Committee chairwoman (via ESPN.com’s Tisha Thompson). “The NFL knew about it and they took no responsibility. [The NFL was] acting like they were doing something. Then they turn around and fix it so [Wilkinson] can’t talk.”

Accusing Snyder of instilling a “culture of fear,” the Committee concluded sexual harassment, bullying, “and other toxic conduct pervaded the Commanders workplace.” Included are a number of former employees’ accounts, with the Committee indicating this run of inappropriate conduct occurred for “more than two decades.” More than 100 former team employees spoke about various aspects of this culture to the Committee. Snyder has owned the team since 1999.

The previously reported shadow investigations Snyder was accused of conducting of former employees during the Wilkinson inquiry surface again here. Snyder sent private investigators to homes of former employees, including Allen. The report also includes accounts from former cheerleaders and a video staffer, the latter saying Washington execs commissioned him to produce a video for the owner featuring “sexually suggestive footage of [the team’s] cheerleaders.”

A statement from Commanders counsel John Brownlee and Stuart Nash (via Jhabvala, on Twitter) accuses the Committee of taking a “one-sided approach” and produced a conclusion that “does not advance public knowledge of the Washington Commanders workplace in any way.” The NFL’s latest investigation into Snyder and the Commanders, centered around workplace toxicity and financial improprieties, is ongoing. As are the other investigations the Oversight Committee’s probe launched. A number of prospective bidders for the Commanders have surfaced over the past several weeks.

Raiders’ Josh McDaniels Not On Hot Seat

Following their decision to reboot after a playoff berth, the Raiders are 2-6. While the other first-year AFC West coach has drawn rampant scrutiny and generated one-and-done rumors, Josh McDaniels is not believed to be in the boat in which Nathaniel Hackett resides.

McDaniels is not viewed as a hot-seat occupant, according to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (Twitter link) and Jonathan Jones. Famously fired during his second season in Denver 12 years ago, McDaniels has become somewhat of a polarizing presence — largely due to his decision to spurn the Colts in 2018 — since initially leaving the Patriots for the Broncos. His first Raiders stretch has not generated much success. McDaniels, 46, is now 13-23 as a head coach.

Jon Gruden‘s forced resignation led to interim HC Rich Bisaccia helming a resurgent 2021 Raiders team to the playoffs. While Mark Davis interviewed Bisaccia for the full-time job, they became the latest team to give the keys to ex-Bill Belichick lieutenants. McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler authorized several extensions this offseason. Derek Carr, Maxx Crosby, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller each reupped with the team, which traded first- and second-round picks for Davante Adams, who received a then-record-setting extension. This Raiders edition entered the season as a top-heavy operation; this situation was viewed as a multiyear retooling project. But the early returns have generated speculation regarding McDaniels’ future.

Despite the Raiders blowing three 17-plus-point leads this season, a source informed Jones the Raiders are a better-managed coaching staff compared to the Gruden period. That said, the team has taken steps back defensively under McDaniels hire Patrick Graham, who was on the HC radar, and has been inconsistent offensively. The Raiders rank 28th in both total defense and points allowed; the franchise has not ranked in the top half in points allowed since 2002. Las Vegas’ defense did rank 14th in total defense and 17th in DVOA last season.

Only 13 coaches have been one-and-dones this century. Hackett walked into a situation with slightly higher expectations, due to the Russell Wilson trade. The 3-5 Broncos’ struggles, with the first-time HC at the center of them, have led to those one-and-done rumors. McDaniels is on a four-year contract, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). Cutting off his stay at one season would be a chunk of guaranteed money for Davis, not one of the league’s richer owners, to eat.

Las Vegas was connected to making buyer’s trades before last week’s deadline, but they have lost two games since that report emerged. The second part of McDaniels’ first season will move to evaluation, with the longtime Patriots OC’s offense on the complicated side. Judging how players progress in that scheme will be paramount to the Raiders’ future, if Davis is keen on giving the coach another chance. Most owners take this route. It should be expected McDaniels will be given the 2023 season to establish himself in Vegas, but the heat will be turned up — especially if his first season stays on this course.

Latest On Jon Gruden’s Lawsuit, Coaching Aspirations

One of the offseason’s most notable off-the-field storylines, the legal dispute between ex-Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and the NFL most recently took a turn in May. The league’s motion to send the impending court battle to arbitration was denied, though it has appealed that ruling. 

While both parties wait for the appeals process to officially begin, the NFL has formally claimed that the emails Gruden sent to Bruce Allen – which ultimately forced him to resign last October – were not reflective of an isolated period. Instead, the league’s representatives argued, Gruden “continued to send the same kinds of derogatory emails consistently following his start date with the Raiders,” as detailed by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

The original leaked emails exclusively dated back to Gruden’s time with ESPN, so the allegation that a similar pattern stretching into his second stint with the Raiders is significant. As his attorney noted, however, such a claim was not made in time for the arbitration ruling to made, meaning that the league cannot use any evidence it finds on the matter as part of its continued argument against a trial in open court.

The fact that the league nevertheless made the accusation contributes further to what Gruden’s agent, Bob Lamonte, termed a ‘hit-job’ against him. That’s why if this were to go to trial, it would be devastating for the National Football League,” he said in a separate Florio piece. The threat of widespread PR fallout has led some to believe that Gruden will coach again in the NFL at some point, something the 59-year-old has expressed a desire for.

Making his first public remarks since the legal battle, Gruden said, via ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez“I’m ashamed about what has come about in these emails, and I’ll make no excuses for it. It’s shameful. But I am a good person. I believe that… I’ve made some mistakes. But I don’t think anybody in here hasn’t. And I just ask for forgiveness, and hopefully, I get another shot.”

It remains to be seen when a resolution will be reached with respect to the league’s appeal, and, subsequently, when this situation will move forward. In the meantime, Gruden could remain a name worth watching on the coaching market down the road.

NFL’s Motion To Dismiss Gruden Lawsuit Denied

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.”

Saints Have Stake In Payton’s Future

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 manager Mickey 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.

Mortensen goes on to explain that, should another team reach out to see what it would take to sign Payton, New Orleans has their compensation chart ready on hand. The chart would be based on past similar transactions setting an estimated value through precedent.

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.

Matt Rhule Eyeing Michigan Job

With next season looking more and more like a make-or-break year for Matt Rhule, the Panthers’ head coach may be making anticipatory moves to stay employed. Jason La Canfora, of CBS Sports, reported that Rhule, and potentially other head coaches in the NFL, may set their sights on the University of Michigan opening, should current head coach Jim Harbaugh be drawn to Las Vegas. 

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.

NFL Moves To Dismiss Jon Gruden’s Lawsuit

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

[Related: Jon Gruden Sues NFL, Roger Goodell]

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.

Jon Gruden Sues NFL, Roger Goodell

Jon Gruden has filed a lawsuit against Roger Goodell and NFL, David Ferrara of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. This comes weeks after leaked emails led to Gruden leaving his post as Raiders head coach.

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.

NFL: No Other Violations Found In Emails

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.

[RELATED: Fallout From Jon Gruden’s Resignation]

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.