Raiders head coach Jon Gruden spent last week coaching his North team in the Super Bowl and eventually leading them to a huge win over the South team. But Gruden also got some other, more Raider-oriented business handled while in Alabama, according to an article in the Athletic written by Vic Tafur.
According to the article, Jon Gruden met and had dinner with Joel Segal the Tuesday prior to the Senior Bowl, which is particularly notable because Segal represents Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack, two players whom the Raiders traded away last season for first-round picks. There was rampant speculation that the Raiders would no longer want to do business with Segal, considering there were reports that Segal negotiated Mack directly out of town by asking for ridiculous numbers in a new contract.
However, ignoring Segal altogether would be a Very Bad Idea for two main reasons: First, Segal represents many of the premier defensive players in the next draft the Raiders would love to get their hands on, including Kentucky’s Josh Allen. Secondly, Segal currently represents some Raiders players including safety Karl Joseph, who if the Raiders want to keep him is going to need a new contract at some point. For Gruden to play nice with Segal like this is certainly best for business, despite what happened in the past. It would be difficult for the Raiders to be the best team they can be without dealing with Segal.
Gruden also had an interesting phone call during his dinner with Segal:
Anyway, at some point after the oysters went down and the chicken wings arrived, Segal dialed up a number and passed his phone to Gruden.
It was Mack.
The two chatted for a while, with Gruden congratulating Mack on a great season with the Bears and Mack wishing Gruden luck with this year’s draft and turning things around in Oakland.
“That was pretty cool,” Gruden said Wednesday of the conversation.
The two didn’t talk last offseason, when Mack was holding out. The Raiders then traded him a week before the season, deciding that they couldn’t pass up on an offer of two first-round picks (even if they had to give back a second-rounder).
It sure would have been nice if Mack and Gruden had talked before now, but what’s done is done and at this point it’s in the Raiders’ best interest to move forward without having Segal as persona non grata, when he was just doing what was in his client’s best interest even if it didn’t line up with what Oakland was able to do. Having a cordial relationship with Khalil Mack is also good for public relations purposes, especially considering the Raiders play the Bears in England next season.
So in addition to Gruden and Mike Mayock getting a good look at some of the best players in next year’s draft, the Raiders may have made things a little easier on themselves in future negotiations and draft decisions by solidifying a relationship some thought may have been strained.