|Mark Davis and Jon Gruden in 2012. Photo by Bob Carr Photography; used with permission.|
When the Raiders Research Project was in its previous iteration several years ago, its most popular article was a running tally of the Raiders' benefits from the infamous trade of Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason of 2001-02.
In the wake of the infamous "Tuck Rule" playoff defeat, the Raiders allowed Gruden, the team's head coach from 1998 through 2001, to sign with the Buccaneers, receiving four top draft picks and a reported $8 million in cash as compensation. Ironically, the Raiders — under new coach Bill Callahan, Gruden's offensive coordinator — went on to face Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVIII after the 2002 season, where Gruden's team took advantage of his knowledge of the Oakland systems to rout the Raiders, 48-21.
Even as that game launched Oakland into a downward spiral that would last more than a dozen years, the Raiders continued to reap benefits of the coaching "trade" for years to come. Were those benefits worth the cost, in one of football's brightest coaching minds?
With Gruden reportedly returning to lead the Raiders in this winter of 2017-18, more than 15 years after the trade that exiled him from Oakland, the RRP is pleased to revive this project and show just what the Raiders got in exchange, in addition to more than a decade of asking "what might have been."
Be warned: The Gruden trade shaped the Raiders' future far beyond four draft picks over the next three years. It's a long read!
(Note that, in researching this article, I discovered that I made an error involving one draft pick in the original piece. That has been corrected.)