Report: Bucs decided to keep Dirk Koetter because Jon Gruden wanted too much
For several months, it appeared like Tampa Bay was the most likely landing spot for Jon Gruden if he decided to return to coaching. Now, Gruden is on the verge of signing a deal to become the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders. And in the process, he may have saved Dirk Koetter’s job.
The Buccaneers took a huge step back this year after going 9-7 in their first season under Koetter. According to longtime Tampa reporter Ira Kaufman, who covers the Bucs for JoeBucsFan.com, Koetter’s job would have been Gruden’s if the ESPN broadcaster wanted it.
During the latest episode of his podcast, Kaufman said the Bucs are creating the false impression that they decided to give Koetter another shot after a 5-11 season for any other reason than them missing out on bringing back Gruden.
“Nobody talks to Gruden directly, everything goes through Gruden’s agent, as it should be. And Gruden’s agent, operating from a position of tremendous strength, tremendous leverage. … Here comes Oakland. Mark Davis, Al’s son,” Kaufman said, as transcribed by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “And in the discussions with the agent, it’s basically the agent gets the impression, ‘Whatever you guys want. Let’s make this happen. Whatever you want.’ Well, when he gets back to the Glazers (Bucs owners) and basically says, ‘We have other options, and [a] concrete option in Oakland, and they’re willing to do this, and do this, and do this.’ And I think it reached a point where the Glazers, talking among themselves, the co-chairmen, said, ‘We can’t go that far. We’re not willing to go that far. A stake in the team. $10 million dollars. Total authority. We can’t do it. Doesn’t make any sense.’
“So God bless Jon. Good luck. And at that point they reached the same conclusion that I wrote 10 days ago: If you can’t get Gruden, give Koetter another chance. … To even suggest that the Bucs had no interest in Jon Gruden coming back to One Buc Place. How naive can you be?”
Koetter probably knows that he was Tampa’s second choice this offseason, but that doesn’t mean he can’t prove the team wrong. Having a head coaching job is better than not having one, so Koetter probably isn’t going to complain about his employer pining over someone else.
For what it’s worth, Gruden says he is not going to have an ownership stake in the Raiders. You have to wonder if his camp planted that information to drive up the price on the Bucs.