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Bucs are preferred destination in a Jon Gruden return

Every year around Christmas time, the football world is gifted with various rumors about Jon Gruden possibly returning to coaching. None of the chatter has pulled the Super Bowl-winning coach from the Monday Night Football booth.

Could something change this year?

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday on GameDay Morning that the discussions are different this year, with Gruden reaching out to potential assistants who might join him in a return.

"As it's being explained to me, this year may actually be different," Rapoport said. "Gruden right now is going through the process of reaching out to former assistants and friends in the coaching industry just to see if they would be available, if they would potentially come with him if he were able to get a head coaching job. And of course the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do have Dirk Koetter on the hot seat -- that would be his preferred destination. The Bucs have often swung big. They'd have to give up a lot of money to outbid ESPN and pay Gruden what he would want -- something that would be worth it to come back to coaching. As a source close to him told me, this year may actually be different."

There's been plenty of smoke blown about Gruden possibly returning to the franchise he helped take to the Super Bowl. Whether that smoke finally turns into fire remains to be seen. First, the Bucs would have to fire Koetter.

Could the other Gruden brother also be on the move?

Jay Gruden received a contract extension from the Washington Redskins last offseason, but if owner Dan Snyder decides to start over again, the younger Gruden would have a suitor: the Cincinnati Bengals.

Rapoport reported Gruden is the "preferred candidate" to replace Marvin Lewis, should the former Bengals assistant become available. Gruden spent three seasons as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator (2011-2013) before taking over in Washington.

With Marvin Lewis expected to end his run as the Bengals coach, Gruden and fellow former Cincy coordinator Hue Jackson have emerged as candidates to return. Both currently have coaching gigs. If their job statuses change, however, the Bengals could pounce.

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