Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.
He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.
Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.
Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.
Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.
He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.
“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”
Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.
Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.
“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”
Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.
Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.