Jon Gruden Says He Gets Phone Calls About Players 'Dying' to Play for Raiders

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2018

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden watches during the second half of an NFL football game between the Raiders and the Indianapolis Colts in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

The Oakland Raiders have started the season 1-6 and traded away two of their best young players in Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, but according to head coach Jon Gruden, players from around the NFL are champing at the bit to play for the team. 

"I got a cellphone just like you and everybody else. I get a lot of phone calls from people that are dying to come play here," Gruden said in an interview with Fox Sports' Howie Long set to air Thursday night (h/t ESPN.com). "I'm just telling you. They're dying to play for the Raiders."

He continued: "And to have salary-cap space and to have a chance to talk to the people that you really want to wear the Silver and Black, the guys you really want to wear the Silver and Black and represent this team, that's exciting."

Players joining the Raiders may need to embrace a rebuild, though the Raiders have the assets in place to build a solid roster. The team will have three first-round picks in 2019, thanks to the Mack and Cooper trades, and two first-rounders in 2020. 

As currently constructed, the Raiders will also have $69.8 million in cap space for the 2019 season, per Spotrac.com, fifth-most in the NFL. So they'll have some wiggle room come free agency, too.

The bigger sell for the Raiders will be convincing incoming players that they're an organization that can make a quick turnaround after what is starting to resemble a lost season. Part of that process will also be convincing players that Gruden is indeed the right man for the job, as his 10-year contract with the team has gotten off to a rocky start. 

Additionally, incoming players might want to know if all is well in amongst the Oakland players, amidst a report from The Athletic's Marcus Thompson earlier this season that quarterback Derek Carr had lost the locker room. While a few Raiders publicly denied those reports, there's no question any potential free agents will want to know whether the face of the franchise, Carr, has the trust of his teammates.

Gruden is certainly adamant that players around the league are dying to join the Raiders. Come free agency this spring, however, those comments—and the Raiders reputation around the league—will be put to the test.