It’s a day Jon Gruden has been impatiently awaiting since the moment he agreed to return as the Raiders head coach. A post he accepted two weeks before the end of last season and the Raiders officially announced some 90 days ago.
Outside of casual individual meetings with his new players consisting of some small talk, Gruden has not been allowed to have any contact with his players as per the CBA. He has many times railed about the restrictions as he would very much like to get this thing moving after 9 years away from coaching and 17 years away from the Raiders.
“We’re not allowed to have contact with players,” Gruden said at the scouting combine last month. “I have bumped into a couple of the players that have been in and out of the facility for various reasons.”
This is something that’s changed since Gruden last roamed the sideline. Back in 2008 — his final year of coaching — the rules weren’t so strict about player contact.
“It’s a lot different because you’re not allowed to have any interaction with the players,” Gruden continued. “You know, I’ve always complained about that since the new CBA came in place. A lot of players would come to see me in Tampa to get their football fix. So, you’re not allowed to have contact with these guys. But what’s most discouraging to me is we’ve got to make some decisions on our roster, on salaries, on players and their futures and you can’t even meet them. I don’t know these guys, I’ve never coached them, I’ve never met half of them. So, that’s been very, very difficult for me and I’ve been emotional about it at times.”
The Raiders have indeed made a lot of decisions with regard to the roster in Gruden’s three months at the helm.
Players who have been cut include several former starters including wide receiver Michael Crabtree, tackle Marshall Newhouse, and corners Sean Smith and David Amerson as well as punter Marquette King. Players let go include TJ Carrie, Denico Autry, and Sebastian Janikowski. We’re at something like 22 free agent additions as well.
Monday is the start of offseason workouts, which is mostly weight training and rehab. They have four hours together and Gruden will get one of those hours.
It’s not a lot of time with which to work, but it’s something, which is infinitely better than nothing.
The rules for this phase of the workouts is pretty well laid out per the NFL Players Association:
- Workouts are strictly voluntary; Club officials cannot indicate workouts are anything other than voluntary
- Maximum 4 w/o per week (no weekends), with one week being the mandatory minicamp (not permitted on weekends)
- Contact work is prohibited in all workouts (e.g. “live” blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run, etc.)
- Intensity and tempo of drills should be at a level conducive to learning, with player safety as the highest priority.
- Two weeks | Limited to strength and conditioning activities (“dead ball”); only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on field
- 90 minute max on the field
- Clubs can only specify 2 hours for players to be at the facility
- Players choose the other 2 hours for weights, etc.
Welcome back, coach Gruden. Prep for the 2018 season starts now.