Jon Gruden’s free-agent moves have not panned out very well

The Raiders have made plenty of moves with Jon Gruden back at the helm. They haven’t gone so well.

From receiver Antonio Brown (a total disaster) to a trio of players who will be gone after two years (tackle Trent Brown, safety Lamarcus Joyner, receiver Tyrell Williams), these players added in 2019 haven’t done much to make things better.

And they’ve spent a lot of money in the process. Millions in money (although they ultimately may have avoided paying Antonio Brown much, if any).

So what will the consequences be? Well, what have the consequences of three straight non-playoff seasons been? There are no consequences for Gruden, not with a 10-year, $100 million contract and an owner who counts Gruden as a close friend if not a best friend. For Mark Davis, having Gruden as the coach means more than winning or making it to the playoffs.

Without significant fear of ultimate accountability, Gruden can do whatever he wants. He can be the mad scientist whose lab explodes. He can go 8-8 or worse every year and never make the playoffs.

That hasn’t insulated Gruden from external accountability. More and more people are starting to notice that Gruden really hasn’t done all that much since waltzing into a Tampa Bay locker room with a championship-caliber defense in 2002.

Some have asked whether and to what extent G.M. Mike Mayock has responsibility for the situation. He’s not blameless, but the reality is that Gruden runs the show.

Others believed that Mayock was in danger of getting the Paul Guenther treatment after the 2020 season ended. Mayock may have been saved by the simple fact that Gruden would have had a hard time hiring someone as good or better than Mayock as the next G.M.

Ultimately, this is Jon Gruden’s show. And while that show has had its moments (including a win over the Chiefs in 2020), the results to date have been disappointing. With each passing year, the pressure increases on Gruden to show that the game hasn’t passed him by. Whether that ever makes Mark Davis pass Gruden by remains to be seen.