Raiders' Jon Gruden Accused of Tampering by GM After Richard Sherman Comments

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2021

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden stands on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)
Steve Marcus/Associated Press

An NFL general manager accused Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden of "blatant tampering" following an interview Gruden gave to Cris Collinsworth and Richard Sherman, according to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio.

Gruden was a guest on Collinsworth's podcast, which features Sherman as well. Although Collinsworth referenced the NFL's tampering rules, Gruden couldn't help but make a pitch to the three-time All-Pro cornerback (via Florio):

"Yes I have. I've been fined, I've been punished very, very harshly. Richard Sherman, if you are a free agent, which there is a rumor you are, we are looking for an alpha presence in our secondary. Somebody that could play this Hawk 3-press technique with the read step. If you're available and interested, maybe you and I can get together at some point off air."

Within the past few months, Gruden wore an "Oakland" Raiders hat and struggled to follow the NFL's COVID-19 protocols regarding face masks on the sideline. His situational awareness hasn't been great.

Florio noted it would be difficult for the NFL not to determine he ran afoul of the tampering rules.

Sherman's three-year, $27.2 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers is expiring. Until the NFL's 2021 league year begins March 17, though, Sherman is still officially a member of the 49ers.

Depending on how seriously the NFL takes the matter, Gruden and the Raiders could be looking at a significant punishment.

The league handed a $100,000 fine to the New York Jets in 2015 based on comments team owner Woody Johnson made about Darrelle Revis. The Kansas City Chiefs lost a third-round pick in 2016 and a 2017 sixth-rounder following a tampering investigation centered on Jeremy Maclin. Head coach Andy Reid ($75,000) and then-general manager John Dorsey ($25,000) also received fines.

The Raiders allowed 263.3 passing yards per game, seventh-most in the NFL. Assuming he doesn't return to San Francisco, Sherman would be a logical free agent to target to strengthen the secondary.

However, Gruden needs to exercise more discretion regarding veterans who might be on Las Vegas' radar.