League sources tell Jason La Canfora that the speculation about Jon Gruden returning as the Buccaneers’ head coach is “hardly out of the question.”
According to La Canfora, some really believe this could finally be the year for Gruden to leave the booth and return to coaching.
Sources have told La Canfora that Gruden has mended the fences with Buccaneers’ ownership the past few years. Beyond that, La Canfora’s sources have said that current Buccaneers HC Dirk Koetter is “almost certain to be let go at season’s end” with the team spiraling out of control and coming nowhere close to living up to expectations.
Gruden still lives about 10 minutes away from the Buccaneers’ facility, so it wouldn’t require much in terms of changes to his living situation.
Another job worth keeping an eye on for Gruden, according to La Canfora, is the Titans. Gruden has strong family ties to Tennessee and they also have a quarterback in place in Marcus Mariota.
This fits with what Michael Lombardi of The Ringer said a few weeks ago.
According to Lombardi, sources around the league have been mentioning Gruden as the name to watch for Tampa Bay if Koetter isn’t able to get things turned around over the second half of the season.
Lombardi points out that Gruden has already made up with ownership and the Bucs could use someone to help the franchise out, especially with all of the offensive talent they have to work with.
It’s worth mentioning that back in August, Gruden said that he doesn’t foresee himself coaching anytime soon.
“I don’t foresee myself coaching anytime soon,” Gruden said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “But I do like getting as close to the fire as possible.
“All I really have going is football. I don’t know what I would do without it. I’m happy with what I’m doing. I study as if I am a coach. I still make my own breakdowns, I still come up with my own playbook — I just don’t have anybody to give it to.”
This is typically about the time of year Gruden’s name starts surfacing in connection to potential head-coaching vacancies. However, Gruden continues to resist overtures from NFL teams about returning to coaching, as he has a great situation with ESPN that allows him to remain close to the game while being well compensated.
Even so, the Bucs could be an appealing situation for him, considering his ties to the franchise, the fact that they have a young quarterback and there is offensive talent to work with right now.
The Colts have also been tossed out a potential landing spot by some.
Gruden, 54, began his coaching career with the Raiders back in 1998. He was actually traded to the Buccaneers in 2002 after years in Oakland.
During Gruden’s 11-year coaching career, he posted a record of 95 and 81 (.540) to go along with four division titles and a Super Bowl Championship with the Buccaneers.
We’ll have more regarding Gruden possibly returning to coaching as the news is available.