Former Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden may be planning on returning to coaching in the near future, but he isn’t coming back to the Buccaneers.

That became clear when veteran Tampa Bay Times beat writer Rick Stroud broke the news that Dirk Koetter had received assurances from the Glazers that he would be back in 2018.

I’ll be honest. My first reaction was that I’d heard this all before.

The Glazers assured Gruden that he would return in 2009 before firing him two weeks after the 2008 season. And in 2013, both former general manager Mark Dominik and former head coach Greg Schiano were told they would return prior to the season finale before being fired after losing at New Orleans, 42-17.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Getty Images

But I knew Stroud’s reporting was correct because I the latest information I received on Thursday pointed to Koetter’s return. That’s why I wrote about the likelihood of Koetter seeing a third season as Tampa Bay’s head coach at 9:15 a.m. ET in my latest SR’s Fab 5 column – Koetter or Gruden? – over six hours before Stroud got confirmation and broke the story.

Here is what I wrote Friday morning:

Because of how hard the team has played and the amount of injuries the team has sustained, it is not a foregone conclusion that Koetter will be fired after Sunday’s game.

Unless the Glazers want to pursue former head coach Jon Gruden, offer him the job and he accepts, I don’t necessarily believe Koetter may be fired.

I don’t see a clear-cut upgrade out there aside from Gruden, and perhaps the Glazers don’t either.

Gruden may be putting feelers out there that he wants to coach again, and that his preference would be the Buccaneers, but would he actually pull the trigger and come back to the sidelines after nine years? We’ll have to wait and see. We’ll find out by next week.

And would the Glazers want Gruden back? Despite the victories he produced, Gruden wasn’t the easiest coach to work with the first time around with high-profile spats with former general manager Rich McKay and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. Perhaps they feel Gruden belongs in the Bucs Ring of Honor at the stadium rather than on the sidelines.

Or perhaps the Glazers know that bringing Koetter back after a disappointing 4-12 or 5-11 season would be a very tough sell to the fan base in the offseason and that Raymond James Stadium certainly wouldn’t be more full in 2018 as a result. Heck, even the Stick Carriers are off the Koetter bandwagon.

Gruden’s return would electrify the fan base and likely raise the level of play among the Buccaneers players, too. He’s a master motivator and I have little doubt that he could take the Bucs to the next level. I’m not sure Koetter can.

But if Gruden doesn’t come back to coach in Tampa Bay either because he wasn’t asked, or he said no, then prepare for Year 3 of the Koetter regime.

So what happened?

Was PewterReport.com’s reporting faulty all along? No.

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy – Photo by: Getty Images

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy – Photo by: Getty Images

Before the Bucs’ playoff game in Philadelphia in 2001, Stroud broke the story that Tony Dungy would be fired and replaced by Bill Parcells. Dungy was fired, and the Glazers had discussions about Parcells replacing him, but it didn’t happen. Something changed.

As it turns out, Parcells was advised at the last minute that the Bucs’ salary cap situation was a mess, which it was, and that he would literally have a year or two to win a Super Bowl before the team had to purge some aging, high-paid stars. Parcells ended up turning down the Bucs after Dungy was fired, but that didn’t mean what Stroud wrote was wrong just because Parcells ultimately didn’t replace Dungy. It’s just that things changed.

Here’s what I do know. There were discussions between the Bucs and Gruden’s representatives during the 2017 season to gauge interest in a possible return as Tampa Bay’s head coach. PewterReport.com knew that and reported the interest and I discussed his possible return in several SR’s Fab 5 columns and 2-Point Conversion columns.

NFL Network’s Mike Silver, who has good connections with the Raiders organization, reported on Sunday that “the Bucs made an unsuccessful run at Gruden.”

That contradicts what Stroud reported last night on Twitter, that he was told by Bucs officials and Gruden representatives that discussions did not take place about a possible return. I believe that’s what Stroud was told, and that’s what he reported in good faith. And it’s obvious why he was told that – because Koetter is staying on as head coach and the Glazers don’t want it to be made public that they were considering replacing him with Gruden.

Yet I know for a fact that there was interest on both sides and some discussions, but ultimately it was not going to happen for several reasons.

The first is over value. A few weeks ago I’d gotten wind of Gruden’s potential contract demands, which are rumored to be $10 million per year over 10 years – fully guaranteed. Gruden makes $6.5 million annually from ESPN and another $2 million per year from endorsements. So it would take more than $8.5 million for Gruden to maintain his current value in the NFL. But I don’t think this is necessarily about money to Gruden.

I think the desire for the 10-year guarantee is because of what happened to him during his final coaching stops in Oakland and Tampa Bay. First, he never got to finish the job of taking the Raiders to the Super Bowl as he was traded in the middle of the night because former owner Al Davis didn’t want to give him the lucrative contract extension he was seeking following the 2001 season.

Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and co-chariman Joel Glazer - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and co-chariman Joel Glazer – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

A 10-year, guaranteed contract literally buys the time Gruden – or any head coach – would want to build a program and sustain it in a league where the patience of owners and fans is short, and there are at least five head coaching vacancies every year.

The second reason is trust. In Tampa Bay, Gruden got fired after he became the franchise’s all-time winningest coach in 2008 during a 9-7 season, and that came on the heels of signing a five-year contract extension with the Bucs in the same year. Gruden felt like his firing, which came out of the blue on January 19, was totally unjustified, and if he was going to return to the Bucs he would want a contract that would make him virtually unfireable for a decade.

The Glazers fired him once before, and after seeing them roll through four coaches in nine years since his departure I don’t think Gruden fully trusted the Glazers. He and the Glazers have mended fences over the years, but I believe Gruden still carries a grudge over being fired. That’s obvious every time Gruden puts on an FFCA (Fired Football Coaches Association) visor or shirt. A mammoth, long-term, guaranteed contract would be the only way to buy the Glazers’ trust and commitment.

I don’t think there is any way the Glazers would make a $100 million commitment to Gruden, if that indeed was his contract demand, and I don’t blame them for it. There is no guarantee that Gruden’s second voyage with the Buccaneers would be as successful as it was the first time with three NFC South division titles and a Super Bowl.

Raiders owner Mark Davis, who is Al Davis’ son, is very close with Gruden and made overtures about him returning to Oakland twice since Gruden has been with ESPN and out of coaching. To this day, the long-time members of the Raiders organization are still upset with losing Super Bowl XXXVII to the Buccaneers with their former head coach. If Gruden is going to come back to the NFL, I’m guessing that Davis is thinking it’s going to be as a Raider – not a Buccaneer.

Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden - Photo by: Getty Images

Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden – Photo by: Getty Images

If the reports about Davis’ contract offer aligning with Gruden’s desires are true, and that he’s upping the ante by offering Gruden a stake in the team’s ownership, that might be too good to turn down. Oakland is the franchise that gave Gruden his first shot at becoming a head coach and his deep, emotional roots to the Raiders rival those that he has for the Buccaneers.

I’m guessing the Glazers would never want to surrender part of their ownership to Gruden or anyone else, so I can’t blame them for not getting in a bidding war with Davis and the Raiders.

Oakland also has a young, talented quarterback in Derek Carr that Gruden could work with, just as the Bucs did with quarterback Jameis Winston, so there is plenty of appeal. With the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in two years, Davis needs star power to sell to the Las Vegas community to fill the stadium and attract corporate sponsors. With such a huge financial commitment to uproot the Raiders to Las Vegas, it only makes sense that Davis would make a similarly huge financial commitment to bring Gruden back as the head coach.

The third reason that Gruden won’t be coming back to Tampa Bay is an educated guess on my part. I’ve heard from several sources that Gruden is concerned about his legacy being tarnished if he were to come back to the Buccaneers. It’s one thing to go back to Oakland and never take the Raiders to the Super Bowl because Gruden didn’t do that in the first place – although he came close twice.

Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

It’s another thing to come back to the Buccaneers and try to live up to winning a Super Bowl in 2002. Gruden had six more years to win another one in Tampa Bay and ultimately couldn’t win another playoff game despite attempts to do so at home in 2005 and 2007. The Super Bowl would always be the measuring stick for success in Tampa Bay, and despite that being the goal of all 32 NFL head coaches each year, that’s a daunting task when a guy has done it before in a city and will expected to do so again after being out of coaching for nine years.

Gruden was inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor this year and perhaps that’s how his story was meant to end in Tampa Bay. Gruden will always be remembered as the first and only Super Bowl-winning head coach by fans. And that could be the way he wants it, rather than as the coach who came back and wasn’t as successful the second time around like Joe Gibbs was in Washington when he came back from 2004-07. Additionally, Gruden will remember his own time in Tampa Bay as one that ended prematurely in 2008. He may not want to go down that road again without any guarantees.

As I wrote in Friday’s SR’s Fab 5, it was going to be Gruden or Koetter in Tampa Bay in 2018 because of the lack of quality head coaching candidates. Presently there is no clear-cut improvement over Koetter available.

Because the Glazers were unwilling to meet Gruden’s demands, Gruden essentially made up the Glazers’ minds for them. They’re keeping Koetter.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Getty Images

Out of respect to Koetter, the Glazers will deny that they had any interest in bringing Gruden back, and that’s understandable because they they have already announced that Koetter will return next season as the Buccaneers head coach. But I will stand firm in my reporting on PewterReport.com based on the information I have gathered over the last three months. I wouldn’t have written half of what was reported on PewterReport.com if I didn’t have good intel.

In the end, Koetter’s feelings might be hurt if he believes there was interest in the Bucs replacing him with Gruden, but he just needs to put that aside and focus on winning more games in 2018 or he will be replaced.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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JustaBuc
JustaBuc
4 years ago

So Scott went with digging his heels in. Fine, it’s way better than doing a total 180 and ignoring the past 3 months. I can respect that and I appreciate the candidness of this article. My question remains the exact same as when all of this started. Is there some reason you couldn’t mention that these Grumors had some legs? My biggest problem with the past 3 months has been that it constantly came off like PR was just talking sh*t with absolutely no sources. That comes off, to me at least, as very irresponsible reporting. PR’s job is not… Read more »

MichaelMyersIsABucsFan
MichaelMyersIsABucsFan
4 years ago

Well written article. The people who are going to hate PR are going to continue to do so.

MudManVA
MudManVA
Reply to  MichaelMyersIsABucsFan
4 years ago

I know. They should stop reading if PR & SR suck as bad as they say. Just Go away

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

Scott, you sound like Trump; never admitting you’re wrong and trying to put the blame elsewhere. You have written many good Articles over the years and nobody is perfect; couldn’t you just say I got this one wrong instead of trying to pull a CYA?

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Hillary too.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

Absolutely!

Dbuc63
Dbuc63
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

You sound well; like a horse s ass

johnnybuc1
johnnybuc1
4 years ago

Nice to see this was ALL about the Bucs coaching status and not some right wing political plug.

Amo
Amo
4 years ago

Horse,

You sound like Obama. You lost the election. Either go to counseling or wait for Chelsea’s kids to get older.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Amo
4 years ago

Amo, I have no party affiliation. I have voted as much Republican as I have Democrat. You are the one who is sensitive if I happen to mention Trump as an example of cya. I’m too old to be concerned about losing our freedoms; you get to enjoy the consequences not me.

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983
4 years ago

It’s going to bite us in the ass big time, if Gruden returns to the Raiders.

MudManVA
MudManVA
4 years ago

This is the article we wanted to read. I for one wished for Gruden’s return to TB, but it makes total sense on Gruden’s demands of the Glazers. I just don’t think Koetter has “it”, and won’t take this team over the top. Treading water is my best analogy. I do think Scott was reporting what he was hearing, but I think his approach was wrong. He came across as pre selling Gruden for the Glazers (I read as a done deal) rather than reporting that he’s hearing there is activity between both parties. Now some of you above me… Read more »

tarheelbuc
tarheelbuc
4 years ago

“wish”, “reporting” at its finest!

Mark Rodriguez
Mark Rodriguez
4 years ago

I’m sorry but I have to think that if Gruden had any interest in coming back to Tampa he’d be a Buc right now. “Sure, I want $100 million guaranteed” is just another way of saying fat chance. I’d still be surprised if he leaves MNF but if he does it won’t be for that kind of money. If he gets it good for him, I guess. But I couldn’t see any coach getting 10 years guaranteed.

Devasher
Devasher
Reply to  Mark Rodriguez
4 years ago

But Mark, Jason Licht has built the best roster in the NFL, just ask PR. Gruden should be willing to pay the Bucs to coach this team. If Gru wanted to he could just coach this HOF laden roster to a SB win like he did under that slacker McKay and get an even bigger bonus from MNF when he comes back. Imagine Gruden could call the Alstott TD play for 32 year old Doug Martin coming off of his next drug suspension while getting top RB pay. He can watch as Swaggy P gets some well timed offsides calls,… Read more »

shuster
shuster
Reply to  Devasher
4 years ago

Yeah and I love that article they ran the other day arguing that the Glazer’s made a huge mistake choosing to keep Koetter instead of hiring Gruden. Sure…. just like I made a huge mistake staying with my wife instead of running away with Scarlett Johansson.

Mark Rodriguez
Mark Rodriguez
Reply to  shuster
4 years ago

Scarlett might have taken you up on it if you offered her 100 mil over 10 years.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Mark Rodriguez
4 years ago

Now that’s funny.

Devasher
Devasher
4 years ago

2 Pt Conv 12/13/17 “As I wrote in Friday’s SR’s Fab 5, it was going to be Gruden or Koetter in Tampa Bay in 2018 because of the lack of quality head coaching candidates. Presently there is no clear-cut improvement over Koetter available Fab 5 12/8/17 “I’ve learned a lot in my two decades of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NFL, but one lesson of the game has stood out to me more recently. That’s the ability to make adjustments – quickly. That’s something the 4-8 Bucs just don’t do on either side of the ball on Dirk… Read more »

surferdudes
4 years ago

Mark Davis’s team is moving to Vegas, he just put part of the house, his NFL franchise, all in the middle of the table to Gruden. He’s rolling the dice. Going big. The Glazers folded, pot got to rich. Can’t blame Gruden for choosing the Raiders. Over 10 mill, and part stake in an NFL team sets his family up for generations. I wish him luck. Mean while let’s hope Koetter, and Licht can make it us better moving forward. If not, to the pit of misery, Dilly,Dilly!

scubog
scubog
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

Dilly Dilly

Jlog
Jlog
4 years ago

We will see what actually happens next week, this evenings game could be a preview. If our Bucs get blown out I could see them reversing course. If they are competitive probably not. If they win somebody screwed up big time. At this point of the year the draft position is more important than winning a game, this season was failure of epic proportions. Now it’s time for strategic minds not tactical ones they will get their chance again next season. I think the Glazer’s will take a decent hit in revenue either way. On one hand ythey could have… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Jlog
4 years ago

Maybe if your butt sat in one of the seats surrounded by Saints fans you’d have a much different strategy.

thewbacca
thewbacca
4 years ago

100 mil is a steep price for a guy who once got into a shouting match with the front office because they didn’t move up to draft Brady Quinn.

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983
4 years ago

Raiders just fired Del Rio. They’ll probably get Gruden.

Wonder if we could get Del Rio to replace Mike Smith. Del Rio will probably get another HC gig though.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
4 years ago

Wasn’t Del Rio the LB Coach when Smith and Koetter were in Jacksonville?

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Del Rio was the HC in Jacksonville, Koetter was his OC and Smith his DC.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
4 years ago

Some other commenter in another thread made a snarky comment that the Raiders will now hire Gruden, then trade him to the Glazers for another 6 first and second round draft picks and $20M.

Crook
Crook
4 years ago

This article (and countless others like it) is my lone beef with PR. I love this site b/c the writing is good and it’s the best place to get relevant Bucs content year round. Scott, Mark, and Trevor share the same passion for the Bucs that I have and it’s fun to read your opinion. My one complaint has always been that Scott does WAY too much “I told you so” or “you heard it here first”. In this case, you got the Gruden interview and then had strong feelings that he would come back to coaching. Then when the… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Crook
4 years ago

Agreed. Scott needs to lay off the chestpounding, and also leave off the politics and social commentary.

If he is going to make strong suggestions repeatedly that a certain outcome is likely he should either name his sources or else keep it low key. Hey, sometimes sources lie (in sports, as in politics, if you assume they’re lying you’ll win more than 50% of your bets).

sean champion
sean champion
4 years ago

LOVE this site–but you could’ve just written a “yeah, we missed on this one” article and I would’ve respected it a bit more.

But whatever–back to reporting. Start gearing up those DC Hot boards because we damn well better be getting a new one.

Buc76
Buc76
4 years ago

Let him go to the raiders. No team relocating will win. That’s why they sucked this year and they’ll suck again next year. Once they get to Vegas they will be a bigger joke. Everything in Vegas is an attraction. You will never have solid team chemistry there. You can’t blame him if they pay him that kind of money and give him ownership. I knew it when I saw him go into the ring of honor. It just didn’t feel like he was coming back.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Buc76
4 years ago

Yeah, you mean just like those loser Los Angeles Rams, huh? Only took’em one season and a head coaching change to win their division, something we Bucs fans haven’t seen for a decade.

Buc76
Buc76
4 years ago

No comparison. Rams are settled raiders are not. What’s done is done. If he’s gone he’s gone. If he takes the job he’s the enemy

drdneast
drdneast
4 years ago

Our loathsome President coined this type of reporting correctly.
Fake news.
As for Michael Silver, he has about as much credibility as that doddering beast that roams the White House without being tethered to a leash.

drdneast
drdneast
4 years ago

Despite the criticism I just ladeled out, I am still a big fan of Pewter Reports. I just thought the whole Gruden story was made up to fill up space and interject a discussion on whether Koetter should be kept on as head coach. I did know one thing, if the Bucs were going to change coaches, I didn’t want it to be Gruden. I have nothing against him, I just know you can’t catch lightning in the same bottle twice. We tried that with Lovie Smith. I would much rather Pewter Reports spend more time and point the blame… Read more »

maarnold1775
maarnold1775
4 years ago

I can see both sides of the fence with this one. I’m not a Koetter fan and still believe he’s way in over his head (Please prove me wrong!), but with everything going on with Gruden, he may not be any better, before all the bandwagon fans start complaining about him too. I also agree they’res no other coaches available that can do any better. My big worry is this Uber thing. If Winston gets suspended x amount of games, that can kill everything next year. Koetter better have every other aspect of the team humming along or he’s toast… Read more »