Raiders

Raiders' Jon Gruden ranked as 15th-best veteran head coach by NFL.com

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AP

Raiders' Jon Gruden ranked as 15th-best veteran head coach by NFL.com

Just win, baby.

Twice in his career, Jon Gruden has been given that directive as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He was considerably more successful the first time around.

Gruden never finished below .500 in his first go-around with the Raiders, but in making his return to the franchise last year, he led Oakland to a 4-12 record -- tied for the worst record in the AFC.

Right after Gruden signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to move out of the Monday Night Football booth and back to the sidelines, many questioned whether his time away from coaching would put him behind the eight-ball. Given how the Raiders performed last season, it didn't exactly silence that noise.

And yet, at least one analyst believes Gruden is still an above-average coach. NFL.com's Elliot Harrison ranked the 32 NFL head coaches Monday, and Gruden came in at No. 15.

Here's what Harrison had to say about Chucky:

"As [Gruden] shipped out star players and cut ties with front office execs he didn't want in Oakland last year, the Raiders managed just four wins. That's why '19 should be the tell on what kind of coach he is going forward. New GM Mike Mayock helped Gruden begin to rebuild the roster after stockpiling picks, providing an infusion of talent that should at least make this team more competitive. Given the strength of the division-rival Chargers and Chiefs, simply leading Oakland to the playoffs should be a ringing endorsement for the coach."

[RELATED: Raiders given 20th best outlook in future power rankings]

Indeed, if they make the playoffs this coming season, that's an undeniable success for Gruden and the Raiders in their final season in Oakland -- one that would be worthy of Gruden ascending on next year's coaching rankings. But, as Harrison suggests, it's not going to be easy.

How Antonio Brown's Raiders-to-Patriots move could cost receiver $29M

How Antonio Brown's Raiders-to-Patriots move could cost receiver $29M

Antonio Brown got what he wanted when the Raiders released him two weeks ago, but the move could cost him nearly $30 million. 

Brown joined the New England Patriots hours after Oakland cut him at his request once the $29.125 million in contract guarantees were voided by the Raiders. He signed an incentive-laden deal with New England for $1 million guaranteed and a $9 million signing bonus, and it's possible Brown sees very little of that. 

The Patriots cut Brown on Friday after Sports Illustrated reported Thursday that someone with a phone number believed to be Brown's reportedly sent intimidating text messages to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct. They might have to pay Brown his signing bonus through a representation warranty clause that says the four-time All-Pro breached his contract by not disclosing "an existing situation that would have prevented his continued availability," a league source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano. If Brown was aware he was facing a federal lawsuit from his former trainer Britney Taylor alleging sexual assault, New England wouldn't have to pay either installment of his signing bonus Monday and on Jan. 15. 

As ESPN's Field Yates pointed out Saturday morning, Brown's potential final 2019 salary -- assuming he does not sign elsewhere this season -- would look much different than when the Raiders traded for the receiver in March and signed him to a new deal.  

To be exact: Subtracting Brown's single game check from his $29.125 million Raiders guarantee leaves him $28,966,677 shy of the money he thought he would receive in his re-worked deal. 

[RELATED: AB's texts reportedly were final straw for Patriots owner]

Brown thanked the Patriots for his short stint in Foxboro after his release Friday, but it's very possible he'll sing a different tune if New England does not pay his bonus. ESPN reported Friday that a signing bonus is thought to be "money earned" by the NFL Players Association, and the union likely would file a grievance on Brown's behalf if the Patriots tried not to pay his bonus. 

Even though he's now looking to join his fourth team this calendar year, don't expect Brown's name to fall out of headlines any time soon. 

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Why Antonio Brown might hate Patriots as he did Raiders after release

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AP

Why Antonio Brown might hate Patriots as he did Raiders after release

Antonio Brown famously celebrated when the Raiders released him two weeks ago, shouting he was “free” of a team he believed had wronged him by voiding $29.125 million in contract guarantees over a reported run-in with general manager Mike Mayock.

Brown was released again Friday, when the Patriots decided enough was enough, but the wide receiver was much kinder to Bill Belichick and Co. in the aftermath. He tweeted a thank-you message to Belichick, and his appreciative Instagram post to Tom Brady even drew a three-hearts response from the quarterback.

All love likely will be lost, however, if the Patriots follow the Raiders’ lead and try to void the money it once guaranteed Brown. And, as ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler pointed out, that’s quite possible.

When Brown joined the Patriots, he received a $1 million fully guaranteed salary and a $9 million signing bonus. By ESPN’s calculation, Brown was paid $158,333 in salary and roster bonuses by the Patriots, who now can argue that the personal-conduct nature of his release allows them to void the remaining $850,000 or so in guaranteed money. It’s the same argument the Raiders made when they wiped Brown’s guarantees off their books, which angered the receiver.

Now, here’s where the Patriots likely went wrong and the Raiders did not (yes, you read that correctly).

ESPN reported that Oakland, unlike New England, did not include signing-bonus money in Brown’s contract. And while the Patriots haven’t yet paid the receiver the first installment of his bonus — that’s due Monday, for $5 million — a league source told ESPN “the team's way out of it is through a representation warranty clause that says it's a breach of contract if Brown didn't disclose an existing situation that would have prevented his continued availability” — like his former trainer’s sexual-assault lawsuit against him, or the other allegations that since have been revealed.

If the Patriots refuse to pay Brown his signing-bonus money next week and the remaining $4 million on Jan. 15, the NFL Players Association surely will back the receiver. A source told ESPN that the union sees signing bonuses as "money earned” — no matter when payments are scheduled — and NFL contract language makes it even more complicated to void a guaranteed signing bonus.

So, if the Patriots come for that $9 million, they can expect Brown and the union to file a grievance — and to have a strong case. The NFLPA also doesn’t want to allow teams to escape lucrative signing bonuses promised to players, so it would fight hard for Brown.

[RELATED: AB's departure shows true nature of 'The Patriot Way']

The Raiders, meanwhile, are on much stronger footing, with Brown’s documented personal-conduct issues and no signing bonus in his now-voided contract. Their focus is on Sunday’s road game against the Minnesota Vikings, not a messy money fight, like what might now await the Patriots.

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