The biggest name, of course, is Jon Gruden, the ESPN analyst who found great success as a Raiders coach from 1998 to 2001. NFL Media's Mike Silver said Tuesday on NFL Total Access that an "emotional connection" remains between Gruden and the Raiders. Would that -- and, we surmise, a blank check -- be enough to lure Gruden out of the broadcast booth?
Gruden offered up a classic non-denial denial during a Wednesday appearance on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike.
"Well, I appreciate those seven or eight bloggers, I have seven or eight friends that are bloggers and use different screen names and they bring my name up every year when there's a coaching job," Gruden joked. "I'd like to thank those anonymous bloggers, I appreciate it. I'm just trying to hang onto my job to be honest with you guys. It's four weeks into the season; some of these teams haven't even played three games yet, so I'm not even thinking about coaching.
"I'm thinking about heading to Washington next week, watching the world champions and my brother coach. That will be exciting for me."
"Well, I think they need to get some continuity in the organization," he said. "When you look at the NFL carefully, the Cleveland Browns, the Washington Redskins, the Raiders, there's a few teams that have had eight or nine, 10 coaches since 1999. And that's hard on an organization. It's hard on the fans, it's hard on the owner. It's just difficult to figure out which direction we're headed."
Gruden knows how to play this game. The "seven or eight bloggers" bit is pure straw man logic, while the comment he isn't "even thinking about coaching" only tells us a sideline return isn't imminent.
There very well could be an offer that fancies Gruden enough to give Mike Tirico a long hug goodbye. Whether the water-logged Raiders could pull off the reunion remains to be seen. Expect Mark Davis to try.