Jon Gruden Rumors: 'Growing Sense' Ex-Buccaneers Coach Will Replace Dirk Koetter

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2017

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden reacts after being inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor during halftime of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

It wouldn't be a coaching carousel without rumors of a Jon Gruden return to the sidelines.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the current Monday Night Football analyst is reportedly considering a reunion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He noted there is a "growing sense in league circles" he will replace Dirk Koetter, who is still employed by Tampa Bay.

Gruden last worked as a head coach in 2008 with the Bucs.

While there is clamoring seemingly each year for the 54-year-old to leave the booth and fill any vacancy, with the University of Tennessee most recently discussing a deal with the former coach, this situation could be more enticing.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network first reported the mutual interest in a Tampa Bay homecoming earlier this week.

"The Bucs have often swung big," Rapoport said, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com. "They'd have to give up a lot of money to outbid ESPN and pay Gruden what he would want—something that would be worth it to come back to coaching. As a source close to him told me, this year may actually be different."

Gruden won a Super Bowl in his first season in Tampa, the only one in franchise history, but had an up-and-down tenure that ended with a 57-55 regular-season record. He was just 0-2 in the playoffs in the six years following his championship.

Still, the Buccaneers have hit a rough patch since, failing to reach the playoffs while going through four coaches in nine years. While Koetter has not yet been fired, he remains on the hot seat after a 4-11 start to the 2017 season and a reported conflict with franchise quarterback Jameis Winston.

Gruden—who was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor on Dec. 18—attempted to quiet rumors of a return earlier this month.

"I've got a job I'm trying to hang on to," he said, per Rick Stroud and Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.

If there is another opening in Tampa Bay, however, it could change his mind.

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