Mark Davis paid a king’s ransom to get Jon Gruden. It cost $100 million over 10 years lure him out of the broadcast booth and back into Silver and Black.
Then factor four-year deals for his coordinators, and the $15 million remaining on Jack Del Rio’s contract.
That’s, well, a lot of money. It was also the going rate.
Gruden will reportedly sign his big, fat contract Monday and be knighted Raiders head coach in a Tuesday press conference.
As much as Gruden may have been primed for a return to coaching, he wasn’t coming for free. Gruden understood his place in the market, as a desired commodity and Davis’ white whale. That creates tremendous leverage and record-setting salary as a baseline.
Davis signed a check, left the rest blank and handed it over. He wasn’t going to let Gruden get away. Not this year. Not with this much at stake.
Gruden was hired to win football games, and lots of ‘em. He was hired to upgrade personnel – the Raiders are tied to precious few players long-term -- and make the Raiders consistently relevant.
Gruden, in this time and place, is more than that. He’s a national celebrity liked by most everyone, now an ambassador to an East Bay market the Raiders want to keep long-term and a Las Vegas market the Raiders will join before long.
In short, Gruden is a wonder drug, a roll with loaded dice. Gruden can help the on-field product and ease a complicated off-field transition from Oakland to Sin City.
“The team has at least one, perhaps two or three more years in the Bay Area before heading to Las Vegas,” former Raiders CEO Amy Trask said on the Raiders Insider Podcast. “This is will excite the magnificent Bay Area fans, who have stuck with the team through thick and thin. I’ve loved those fans since from the day I joined organization and always will, and this will (energize) the fan base in Oakland, even while it knows the team is heading out the proverbial door.
“And for the Las Vegas market, this team is taking on a staggering, breathtaking amount of debt in conjunction with that (Vegas) stadium project, and thererfore has a lot of really, really expensive product to sell.”
Trask is referring to personal seat licenses, suites, club seat, sponsorships and maybe even naming rights in new digs just off the Las Vegas Strip.
“This will give them a little pizzazz to spark those sales,” Trask said. “From a business perspective, it could have some tremendous value to the team. Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s not only that. This has an good chance for the Raiders of working out on the field as well.”
That’s the mission. If Gruden can help all sides of the organization, he might have even come cheap.