The NFL rumors are pointing to a return for Jon Gruden, with reports that the Raiders are planning to give their former coach an ownership stake in the team in exchange for his return to the sidelines.
Gruden has been mentioned in nearly every high-profile job opening in the NFL over the past few years, with reports that a number of teams interested in attracting him out of the announcer's booth and back onto the field.
This year, the Jon Gruden rumors are getting started even earlier than usual. Reports on Saturday indicated that the Raiders were very interested in Gruden and were planning on making a strong run at him. As Pro Football Talk reported, the situation isn't entirely clear yet as the Raiders still have Jack Del Rio as coach and likely wouldn't fire him unless they were sure that Gruden would take over as coach.
But Gruden could have more incentive to join the Raiders. As the report noted, the team is willing to offer him an ownership stake, which could be very lucrative given the team's move to Las Vegas in 2020. The Raiders may also be trying to build some excitement around a team that will be in limbo for a few seasons, with one year left in Oakland and an uncertain 2019 before they move to Las Vegas permanently in 2020.
Jon Gruden was a bit cagey about the rumors, telling his employer, ESPN, that he did not want to speculate on his future, but seemed to confirm that he's been in at least some talks.
"There is no news to report. I can't say I haven't taken any phone calls," he said. "I take a lot every year from coaches, some others.... Yeah, sometimes owners. Guys want to bounce ideas off me. I'm here to help people."
Jon Gruden has started to talk about an NFL comeback in recent weeks, even if some of it has been tongue-in-cheek. Earlier this year, there were rumors that Gruden could take over for Ben McAdoo, who had been fired by the New York Giants.
As USA Today reported, Gruden even addressed the rumors during Monday Night Football. During the broadcast, Sean McDonough noted to Gruden that betting outfits were putting his return at 35-1 odds. Gruden joked that he would think about joining the Giants, as long as Eli Manning came back as well.
"Would you take the over or the under on 35-1?" McDonough asked.
"I'll take the under on that if Eli comes back," Gruden replied.
If the NFL rumors pan out and Jon Gruden does end up returning to the Raiders, it likely won't be too soon. The Raiders would still have to fire Jack Del Rio and would have to go through a formal interview process to fulfill the Rooney Rule.There are other rumors surrounding Jon Gruden as well, including reports that he could come back to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.