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If Jon Gruden returns to NFL, expect it to likely be with Raiders or Falcons

Jon Gruden has been out of football since 2008 with the Buccaneers. (USATSI)
Jon Gruden has been out of football since 2008 with the Buccaneers. (USATSI)

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Should former Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden end up leaving the broadcast booth and returning to coaching, his most likely destinations would be Oakland or Atlanta, according to league sources, should those jobs open up. The Raiders made a serious approach to Gruden last year, according to sources, and owner Mark Davis remains highly enamored of him, and is still evaluating coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Gruden coached previously in Oakland and retains strong ties there and landing him would be a major coup for the Raiders. A year ago, with Allen and McKenzie in their first years on the job, it would have been even more financially restrictive to sweep out a regime and usher in a new one, let alone a staff as highly compensated as Gruden's would be. That's lessened some, one year later, and several sources who know Gruden well believe he is more inclined now than ever to return to the sidelines after rebuffing repeated overtures in the past.

The Falcons would also be a situation that could appeal to Gruden. They have a quarterback and no shortage of offensive weapons in place. They have been a contender in recent years and if they do let go of coach Mike Smith, owner Arthur Blank is likely to seek a very high-profile replacement. Blank has quietly interviewed big-name coaches in the past for his openings but ended up going with more nondescript options. But sources said with him getting a new stadium built and with his fan base fickle in the past and his team falling well below expectations this season, everything would be aligned for him to seek a more proven commodity to try to get his franchise to a Super Bowl, should Smith be fired.

Money is no object to Blank, Atlanta is close to Gruden's Orlando home (especially via private jet), and Gruden already coached in the division previously. While most of the probably head coaching openings wouldn't make much sense for him, these two certainly would.

 
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