It’s that time of the football year where rumors about potential head coaching options for both college and the NFL start to heat up.
One name that has been synonymous with those rumors is former Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden who hasn’t coached since being fired by Tampa Bay following the 2008 NFL season.
On Friday, rumors surfaced once again about Gruden’s potential return to the sidelines from Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman and NFL insider Benjamin Allbright
Gruden was even asked about the possibility of coaching again during his interview with Rich Eisen on Friday:
Gruden currently is employed by ESPN where he does color for Monday Night Football as well as doing NFL Draft coverage and his popular “QB Camp” series where he works with the top NFL quarterback prospects before each NFL Draft.
He’s been rumored to be a target to be the Browns head coach by Jimmy Haslam since Haslam bought the franchise in 2012 and even before that when Mike Holmgren was the team president in 2010.
If I had to guess who the NFL team is to reach out to Gruden, I wouldn’t doubt it’s the Cleveland Browns with rumors swirling that Haslam will look to make changes once again following the season with the current regime compiling a 1-23 record despite Haslam’s claims of a multi-year rebuild.
He’s also been rumored for the University of Tennessee coaching position for years and as they’re preparing for another coaching change, his name has been at the top of the list as the potential replacement for Butch Jones.
At 53 years old, there’s no doubt that Gruden isn’t too old to coach football still but you have to wonder if he’s ready for the full-time commitment of working in the NFL again.
It’ll come with a hefty price tag to get him to coach again. ESPN reportedly pays him $6.5 million dollars a year and he practically works only half of the calendar year.
No matter if it’s college or the NFL, Gruden would likely command a salary of at least $8 million or more per year. The highest paid college coach is Alabama’s Nick Saban at $11.1 million a year while the highest paid NFL coach is New Orleans’ Sean Payton at $9 million a year.
Also if Gruden returns to the NFL, he’d likely want full control over the roster which if Cleveland only makes a coaching change would likely eliminate them as a destination because currently Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown has control of the roster. Whether he’d give that up for a high profile head coach is unknown.
Other NFL teams that make sense for Gruden in my opinion would be the Indianapolis Colts because of Gruden’s high praise of quarterback Andrew Luck although Luck’s future with the franchise is in doubt recently.
Gruden’s former team: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also make sense. He still lives in the area and seems to have a great relationship with the franchise despite being fired nine years ago. He was a guest during training camp as seen on Hard Knocks and will be inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor on December 18.