Bucs Make Push For Gruden

February 5 – Tampa Bay is exhausting all efforts to obtain Oakland head coach Jon Gruden. The Buccaneers and Raiders are negotiating a deal that would compensate Oakland with cash and or draft picks in exchange for Gruden. Meanwhile, general manager Rich McKay is not taking any chances and has all but locked up Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis in the event their pitch for Gruden does not pan out.

Before they settle on Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis as their new head coach, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are apparently making a big push to obtain Oakland head coach Jon Gruden's services.

Gruden, 38, has one year left on his contract with the Raiders and has made it no secret he will not coach Oakland past the 2002-2003 season.

In three seasons with the Raiders, Gruden has posted a 30-18 regular season record and has won two consecutive AFC West Division titles.

Several reports have suggested Oakland owner Al Davis wants three draft picks over three years from the Bucs in exchange for Gruden, but Tampa Bay general manager Rich McKay is not crazy about parting ways with draft picks for players, never mind coaches.

Other reports have suggested Tampa Bay has put together several compensation packages, which have the Buccaneers offering draft picks and or cash, and may even include players.

McKay was apparently ready to settle on defensive-minded Marvin Lewis, 43, as their new head coach before Tampa Bay executive vice presidents Joel and Bryan Glazer urged McKay to rethink his decision and exhaust all efforts in a pursuit of offensive guru Jon Gruden.

While ex-Chargers offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey have not been officially eliminated from consideration, Tampa Bay has not had contact with them since they first interviewed last week.

The Buccaneers are officially pursuing Gruden, but Bucs GM Rich McKay is thought to be putting together an offensive staff with Lewis. New England offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss might be a candidate for Tampa Bay's offensive coordinator if Lewis is hired since Weiss' contract with the Patriots has expired. The Carolina Panthers are also reportedly interested in obtaining Weiss as new head coach John Fox's offensive coordinator.

If progress is not made with Gruden, Tampa Bay could hire Lewis as early as this week. But if progress is made, it may take over a week for Tampa Bay to work out a deal with Oakland for Gruden. Tampa Bay will not pull the trigger on a trade with Oakland unless Gruden agrees to a long-term contract with the Buccaneers.

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