Gruden Making People Scratch Their Heads

Jon Gruden has made some head-scratching moves this offseason, which could lead to front-office changes come January

Reiter Than You
August 08, 2018 - 8:53 am

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Jon Gruden turned heads when he left the Monday Night Football booth to sign a 10-year, $100 million deal to coach the Raiders. 

A few months into Gruden’s offseason tenure, those heads are still turning.

“Look, it’s very, very early in the process,” CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on Reiter Than You. “I think he has certainly made a number of people scratch their heads a little bit and do double takes with what he gave up for Martavis Bryant and bringing in Jordy Nelson and Doug Martin and guys who appear to be perhaps past their sell date and walking away from Crabtree and what’s going on with the kicker situation there right now – there’s certainly some things that are giving people pause. 

“But I think if you talk to anybody who’s ever worked with Gruden, they’ll tell you he’s a hell of a coach,” La Canfora continued. “There’s certain things he does tremendously well, but he needs a lot of help with personnel – and frankly, I don’t know if Reggie McKenzie is the guy to be paired with him. I think Jon needs a very accomplished, strong-willed GM with him who can kind of stand toe-to-toe with him at times and have those checks and balances. I don’t think those checks and balances exist right now.”

McKenzie arrived in Oakland in 2012. He is is signed through 2021.

“I think Reggie McKenzie’s tenure at GM is probably spotty at best,” La Canfora said. “I think Gruden also came into this thing at a time when this Khalil Mack thing had been festering and the Raiders have been making a lot of macro-level moves.”

Like franchise relocations. And stadium deals.

“A lot of things that will affect the bottom line for a long time to come,” La Canfora said. “The quarterback got done and all these other things got done, and Khalil Mack is sitting there thinking, ‘Well, I’m done being one of the biggest bargains in professional sports. If you guys don’t want to give me what I want, it’s a 32-team league, and of those 31 other teams, I bet a solid eight of them at least would get pretty damn creative to give me what I’m worth.’”

Mack, who is in the final year of his contract, is slated to make $13.8 million this season. He is an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

“Earl Thomas and Khalil Mack are the two that I would really look at as (having) potential to end up in a trade,” “La Canfora said. “I do’t know that those guys ever play for their current teams again.”

Still, Gruden hopes to lead the Raiders to their second playoff appearance in three years.

“There’s no way to predict these things, but he’s been gone a long time,” La Canfora said. “The league changes exponentially every three to four years and he’s been out for several of those cycles. I just never thought that coupling was going to be for long – McKenzie and Gruden – and it'll be incredibly interesting to see how that front office gets reshaped, what happens at team president levels, what happens at the GM and assistant GM levels. Because I expect there to be plenty of change come January.”