Jon Gruden’s second stint with the Raiders isn’t going like his first.
Back in 1998, he took over as head coach and led the Oakland Raiders to a pair of 8-8 seasons before winning two straight AFC West titles. This time around, Gruden is 19-29 in three seasons and last year’s 8-8 mark was the best yet.
NBC Sports' Peter King wrote about Gruden’s future with the Raiders, considering he signed a 10-year, $100 million contract in 2018.
“With seven years left on Gruden’s deal, I can’t imagine owner Mark Davis thinking of pulling the plug yet,” King wrote Sunday in his "Football Morning in America" column. “But another disappointing year and Davis has got to start thinking about it.”
OK, so Gruden’s seat isn’t hot yet, but could be getting warm by 2022.
This offseason has already been something of a mea culpa, with the Raiders cutting ties with expensive players like Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner and Tyrell Williams. Now, Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are in reconstruction mode, especially on the offensive line, after also trading away guard Gabe Jackson and center Rodney Hudson for draft picks.
In terms of free agency, the Raiders made something of a head-scratcher in signing running back Kenyan Drake to a two-year, $14.5 million contract, even though Josh Jacobs is ostensibly healthy and still in the prime of his career.
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King gave credit to Las Vegas for the signing of veteran receiver John Brown to a one-year, $3.75 million deal, but said the addition of pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue comes with question marks.
While Ngakoue has put up sacks, pressured opposing quarterbacks and consistently forced fumbles in his career, King implied Ngakoue could be a concern in the locker room.
“Also imported: a very curious player, Yannick Ngakoue, who is now on his fourth team in seven months,” King wrote. “He talked his way out of Jacksonville, got traded twice in two months (to Minnesota and then Baltimore) and produced only moderately in either place, and got rewarded in a stressed cap period with $13 million a year from the Raiders.”
On paper, Ngakoue’s signing looks like a solid move, but King’s reporting suggests there could be risk involved.
The Raiders have a lot of holes to fill before Week 1. Gruden and Mayock are just getting started this offseason, but this second major wave of roster construction during their time at the helm will be crucial to their job security.