ESPN reported Saturday night that the Oakland Raiders are preparing to woo NFL analyst Jon Gruden back to the sidelines with a lucrative deal that could even make him a part-owner of the team.
Gruden would be "temped to accept" such an offer from the Raiders but would hesitate to make any decisions until after the team's regular-season finale Sunday, according to ESPN, which has employed Gruden as an analyst since 2009.
"I don't want to sit here and speculate. ... There is no news to report," Gruden told the network Saturday. "I can't say I haven't taken any phone calls. 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."
Gruden previously coached the Raiders for four seasons from 1998 through 2001, with the team never finishing worse than 8-8 during that span. He has been out of coaching since 2009, when he was fired after seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including a Super Bowl title in 2002.
As he transitioned from coaching to the broadcast booth, the 54-year-old has still been a constant subject of coaching rumors. This year, he talked openly about a return to the sidelines and there was speculation — primarily wishful thinking from University of Tennessee fans — that he would leave ESPN to coach the Volunteers.
One potential complication with the Raiders is the fact that current coach Jack Del Rio was just awarded a four-year contract extension in February. Another wrinkle: The Raiders are set to move to Las Vegas in the next few seasons, though they will remain in California at least through 2018.
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