How Jon Gruden became worth any price to Mark Davis and the Raiders

How Jon Gruden became worth any price to Mark Davis and the Raiders

Mark Davis didn’t have to give Jon Gruden a piece of the Oakland Raiders after all. A huge piece of his flesh was sufficient.
The deal with Gruden is done – a preposterous 10 years and an elephantine $100 million – and will be announced Tuesday.
It is a massive overpay by any definition, especially when you consider that Gruden’s actual resume isn’t as stellar as Raider fans both in the East Bay and across the universe desperately need it to be.
But because they desperately need it to be, Mark Davis desperately needs it to be. And because Davis has always been almost creepily obsessed with returning Gruden to his quasi-ancestral home, his desperation was doubly so.
So Gruden became worth the price, at any price. Even if he doesn’t win a Super Bowl in Oakland, even if he doesn’t win a Super Bowl in Las Vegas, or Mexico City or wherever the Raiders move after that – hell, even if most of that money will go to him after he’s been fired for not being sufficiently Grudenesque.
Mark Davis acted on an itch, and what’s the point of being an owner if you can’t do that? Hell, that’s how Bob Kraft turned Jimmy Garoppolo into a San Francisco 49er.
The only bump in this seemingly freshly paved road will come when Davis’ partner/benefactors in the owners’ suites look at him aghast and say, “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST DO? WE LET YOU MOVE TO LAS VEGAS AND THIS IS HOW YOU DO US?”
Put another way, Bill Belichick is now scandalously underpaid, and he is office-fighting on multiple fronts. Mike Tomlin is being robbed half-blind. And Marvin Lewis – well, he got an extension he probably didn’t merit so he’s probably doing fine.
In any event, Gruden won’t be measured by his money, and since it isn’t yours, you shouldn’t mind either. It’s whether he wins, how often he wins, and if he can win the big one with the team he beat to win the big one he got. He has to fix the locker room, he has to fix the defense, he has to fix Derek Carr . . . he’s got plenty to do, and even if it doesn’t seem like $100 million worth now, it will if he does it.
If he doesn’t – well, like we said, it isn’t your money, and by the time Davis can eat a digestible fraction of his contract, there’s an excellent chance it won’t be his, either. 

Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line


Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line

ALAMEDA -- Johnathan Hankins isn’t even 28 years old yet feels like an old man working on the Raiders defensive front. The starting line features two rookies off the edge and a second-year man working next to him inside.

He is an elder statesman in that crew, with plenty of experience in his seventh year out of Ohio State. Hankins is having a blast with a young, developing crew, knowing he must anchor the defensive line and help those around him make plays.

“I’m just trying to do my best to lead the guys,” Hankins said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “I’ve been here longer than most of the guys on this unit, and I try to show them what it takes to be a professional and pass along all the information I learned from the veterans I worked with way back when.”

Hankins is paying it forward now with words and action. His role at defensive tackle often helps create opportunities for others pushing the pocket back and shutting down the opposition’s interior run game.

The Raiders are better in that area thanks in large part to Hankins’ improvement within the system and are certainly thankful last year’s in-season signing has become a permanent fixture upfront.

Hankins was in a weird spot before joining the Raiders last year, cut just a year into a big three-year contract with Indianapolis because the Colts changed defensive schemes.

He found a proper fit in Oakland and was happy to re-up with them this offseason.

“There was a lot going on after I got released by the Colts, and I was trying to find a place that fits well with me and finding an organization that wanted me,” Hankins said. “That’s what it boiled to, and it has really worked out with the Raiders.”

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Hankins considers it destiny that he’s Raiders, the same team name he had as a 6-year old running back and kicker growing up in Detroit and nearby Dearborn, Mich. That’s where he grew (quite literally) into the dominant defensive force that earned an Ohio State scholarship and a second-round NFL draft slot.

“I’m just enjoying this ride,” Hankins said. “I’m trying to be at my best and show everyone watching that I’m still one of the best defensive tackles in this league. The goal is to get to 12 years, and I think I’m on my way.”

Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season


Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season

ALAMEDA – Hunter Renfrow injured his ribs and punctured his lung during a Week 12 loss to the New York Jets, a scary situation that put the rest of his season in some jeopardy.

The Raiders couldn’t say for sure if he’d finish out his rookie season, where he made steady progress and ranked high among quarterback Derek Carr’s most reliable targets.

He didn’t play last week against Kansas City and won’t play Sunday against Tennessee at Oakland Coliseum, but could well come back down the stretch.

“We’re hopeful that he could return for the last game or two,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “We’re going to keep him on the active roster. We’ll do without him for another game or two, and we’re hoping to get him back for the Chargers game [in Week 16]. That’s on our wish list, our hope list right now for Hunter. We miss him.”

Renfrow wasn’t active on Wednesday, according to a practice estimation from the team. The Silver and Black conducted a walk-through session off-site, on a basketball court in Alameda to avoid inclement weather. The focus is teaching and the mental side of the game.

“We have made some adjustments to our roster, so we have gone inside to try to multiply our reps for a lot of people that we have to get ready to play,” Gruden said. “There are pros and cons to everything. I like to get a lot of reps in on Wednesday to teach the game plan and make sure they’re sound in their assignments. It’s not at the same speed, but it’s an important part of learning, especially the changes we have had at several positions.

“I think it has been beneficial. We’ll come out and run fast Thursday and Friday and get ready for the Titans.”

Running back Josh Jacobs was considered out on the team’s practice estimation with a shoulder injury. Right guard Trent Brown was considered a non-participant with a pectoral injury. He has been dealing with knee and ankle injuries in recent weeks.

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Raiders practice report

Did not practice
WR Hunter Renfrow (rib)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
OT Trent Brown (pectoral)
LB Kyle Wilber (ankle)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)

NOTE: The Raiders conducted a walk-through practice on Wednesday. Therefore, the participation report is an estimation.