In a surprising move that marks his re-entry into the NFL, Jon Gruden, former head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, has assumed a new role as a consultant for the New Orleans Saints.
The decision aims to facilitate the transition of the team’s newly signed quarterback, Derek Carr, to the Saints’ offensive system. Carr and Gruden previously worked together at the Raiders, with Carr enjoying the best years of his career under Gruden’s mentorship from 2018 to 2021.
Jon Gruden’s Controversial Exit and Surprising Return
Gruden’s return comes after nearly 20 months of keeping his distance from the league, following his resignation from the Raiders in October 2021. His exit was prompted by the exposure of offensive emails containing derogatory language targeting various groups.
The Saints’ Strategy: Leveraging Gruden’s Expertise
The Saints signed Carr to a four-year, $150 million contract with $100 million guaranteed, hoping to revive the franchise’s quarterback position that hasn’t seen much glory since the era of Drew Brees. In this endeavor, the Saints have opted to leverage Gruden’s insight, given his unique familiarity with Carr and the offensive system.
Carr is accustomed to the West Coast offenses from his time in Las Vegas, where Gruden and Josh McDaniels ran systems similar to the one the Saints have employed since 2006. The Saints’ offensive scheme was heavily influenced by Gruden during his time with Sean Payton on the Philadelphia Eagles staff in 1997.
In addition to bringing in Gruden, the Saints signed two of Carr’s former Raiders targets in free agency: wide receiver Bryan Edwards and tight end Foster Moreau. The goal is to ensure a seamless adjustment process for Carr and to optimize the team’s offensive capability.
Gruden’s New Role Amidst Past Controversies
While it’s highly unlikely any team would accept Gruden as a head coach or assistant coach given the controversies surrounding his exit from the Raiders, the Saints see value in his consultancy. This new role allows Gruden to stay involved in the NFL, albeit in a different capacity.