Despite being fired by the Las Vegas Raiders a few seasons ago and seemingly becoming persona-non-grata among league circles, former NFL head coach Jon Gruden has been quietly working his way back into professional football, albeit on an unpaid basis.
According to reports, Gruden — decked out head-to-toe in Saints gear — was at New Orleans’ training camp on Friday working with his buddy Derek Carr, who was his quarterback with the Raiders from 2018 to 2021.
However, while Gruden could be seen holding what appears to be some kind of play sheet, the 59-year-old Super Bowl winner was with the team as an “unpaid observer.”
Jon Gruden visiting with Saints QB Derek Carr at training camp practice on Friday. Gruden and Carr teamed with the Raiders for three-plus seasons from 2018-2021. Gruden is visiting the Saints as a non-paid observer this weekend. pic.twitter.com/aSzCzEHh7u
— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) August 4, 2023
Heading into the season, the New Orleans Saints are expected to win the NFC South, at least as far as the betting odds are concerned. Interestingly, all four teams in the division — the Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Bucs, and Carolina Panthers — will have new starting signal-callers this season.
During the offseason, the 32-year-old four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $125 million with the Saints, who were looking to improve on a season that saw them start Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton at the position.
In his final season with the Raiders — who drafted him out of Fresno State in 2014 — Carr started in 15 games, compiled a 6-9 record, and completed 60% of his passes for 3,522 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.
In addition to Carr in New Orleans, the Tampa Bay Bucs signed Baker Mayfield to replace Tom Brady (yikes), the Falcons are giving the keys to second-year QB Desmond Ridder (and also signed Taylor Heinicke away from the Commanders), and the Panthers selected Bryce Young with the number one overall pick in the draft.
Carr and the New Orleans Saints will play their first preseason game of the offseason this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Then, on Sunday, September 10, they’ll kick off their 2023 campaign with a 1:00 p.m. matchup at home against the Tennessee Titans.