ALAMEDA, Calif. — A time is expected to come when Jon Gruden confirms what is widely considered certain: He will be the Raiders’ next head coach, returning to the sideline for the first time since 2008.
For now, he is ready to go only so far.
The ESPN analyst perhaps was a little coy Tuesday when expressing interest in the Raiders’ vacancy. An understated approach, though, is understandable given the Raiders remain in the interview process, which requires them to meet with at least one minority candidate in accordance to the Rooney Rule or else be subject to fine. There also is the matter of Gruden’s ongoing commitments to his current employer.
Gruden, 54, spoke to Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. In the interview, he publicly confirmed his interest in the position for the first time. ESPN first reported Saturday there is mutual interest. The likelihood Gruden will coach in Oakland and eventually Las Vegas was reaffirmed with Sunday’s dismissal of coach Jack Del Rio following the conclusion of a 6-10 campaign.
“Well, I think I am being considered, yes,” Gruden said. “I hope I’m a candidate.”
Gruden also stated some familiarity with the timetable surrounding the hiring process.
“My understanding is they’re interviewing candidates this week and they’re going to let everybody know sometime early next week or whenever they make their decision,” Gruden said.
The earlier Gruden is hired, the earlier he can formally assemble his coaching staff. Those efforts nonetheless continue in an unofficial capacity. Paul Guenther has been linked to Gruden as his potential defensive coordinator. Guenther, 46, has worked on the Cincinnati Bengals’ staff for the past 13 seasons, the final four of which were as Marvin Lewis’ defensive coordinator.
Guenther’s contract expires this month. He reportedly won’t renew it to explore other opportunities.
Gruden will be in the broadcast booth this Saturday, providing color commentary for the Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs playoff game.
— The Raiders signed nine players to reserve/future contracts. The following eight ended 2017 on the team’s practice squad: defensive end Fadol Brown, wide receiver Keon Hatcher, cornerback Darius Hillary, running back Elijah Hood, cornerback Tevin Mitchel, defensive end Joby Saint Fleur, guard Jordan Simmons and defensive tackle Shakir Soto. Long snapper Bradley Northnagel is the new addition. All nine will join the roster once it expands from 53 to 90 players in March.
— Oakland had interest in re-signing safety Stefan McClure, but he accepted a reserve/future deal from the Detroit Lions instead, a source said. He and tight end Marcus Lucas are the Raiders’ only practice-squad players not under contract for 2018.