And so the rampant speculation begins, with one more Sunday of games left in the NFL’s regular season.
Reportedly, Jon Gruden wants to return to coaching.
The former coach signed a five-year contract to remain an ESPN mouth before the season began, but contracts aren’t etched in stone and Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Gruden has decided to return to coaching in 2012. Gruden, according to a report by CBS’s Mike Freeman, is checking all the possibilities before deciding whether to pick up a whistle again.
“He's ready to leave television,” a source told Freeman, “but only if the right job is out there.”
Now, just what is the right job? Might it be in St. Louis? Or will Gruden reiterate his commitment to ESPN, as he did a year ago? Acee reports that, if Rams Coach Steve Spagnuolo and General Manager Billy Devaney are fired, owner Stan Kroenke will try to hire A.J. Smith, assuming he is fired as general manager of the underachieving San Diego Chargers, and Gruden in a package deal.
The St. Louis openings would be, as Peter King reported Sunday night, among the best in the league, with the Rams possibly having the top draft pick in 2012, Sam Bradford on the roster, and an enormous amount of cap space. (Would Gruden want Bradford — or Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck? Let the WWJG do speculation begin...)
Smith’s status is expected to be addressed by owner Dean Spanos next week; Norv Turner is widely expected to be out. Perhaps Spanos would like to hire Gruden himself.
(Spagnuolo may or may not be heading back to the Philadelphia Eagles, as defensive coordinator.)