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Raiders planning to pursue Jon Gruden if available

As the end of the 2017 season nears and Black Monday creeps ever closer, the Oakland Raiders are bracing to move on from third-year coach Jack Del Rio -- but only if one replacement becomes available.

Oakland is planning to pursue former Super Bowl-winning coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and current Monday Night Football color commentator Jon Gruden, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed of the situation. ESPN first reported Oakland's intentions.

The Raiders gave Del Rio in the offseason a four-year extension through 2020, but are willing to part with the skipper if Gruden, long a white whale in coaching searches, becomes available. The franchise has held off endorsing Del Rio as its coach next season until they know about Gruden's plans.

Rapoport reported Oakland intends to offer Gruden an annual salary of over $10 million and an ownership stake in the team.

Gruden's name resurfaced in the coaching carousel recently when the Buccaneers were rumored to be moving on from coach Dirk Koetter. Tampa Bay said Friday that Koetter will return in 2018, quashing any possibility of Gruden returning to the franchise he led to a Super Bowl victory in 2002. Rapoport reported that, in anticipation of being courted by an NFL team, Gruden reached out to assistants about putting together a staff, one that includes Rich Gannon as QB coach.

Rapoport added that Raiders owner Mark Davis' frustration over Oakland's 6-9 season, a disappointing follow-up to last year's postseason run, has been evident and growing. Davis reportedly ranted on the team plane on Monday night following a close loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Those involved in Oakland's decision-making process believe Davis has "something big planned" to turn the club around before the Raiders move to Las Vegas during the 2019 offseason. 

This isn't the first time that Gruden's name has cropped up as Black Monday nears. Last season, Gruden was approached by the Indianapolis Colts. The highly respected commentator has long used offers or interest from NFL teams as leverage, only to return to ESPN's football coverage. Oakland has propositioned Gruden on a return in the past, Rapoport added, but to no avail.

In short, the Raiders have been here before with Chucky, their coach of four years at the turn of the century, and they, like the rest of the league, don't know if this is the year Gruden will finally make the jump back into coaching. But if and when he's ready, Oakland will be as well.

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