Jon Gruden says players are 'dying' to join Raiders

Jon Gruden says players around the league are “dying to play” for the Raiders, despite a 1-6 start to the season. 

During an interview with Fox Sports that will air Thursday night before Oakland’s game against the 49ers, the Raiders coach expressed optimism about the status of his team and said he’s getting a lot of interest from players that want to join Oakland.

“I got a cellphone just like you and everybody else. I get a lot of phone calls from people that are dying to come play here. I’m just telling you. They’re dying to play for the Raiders,” Gruden said.

“And to have salary-cap space and to have a chance to talk to the people that you really want to wear the silver and black, the guys you really want to wear the silver and black and represent this team, that’s exciting.”

Gruden, who is in the first season of a 10-year, $100 million contract he signed to return as coach, has made some controversial decisions this year. He made two big trades over the past few months, sending linebacker Khalil Mack to the Bears and wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Cowboys. 

There also have been reports of turmoil within the Raiders locker room. The Athletic reported last week that many were questioning whether quarterback Derek Carr is still considered a leader. Carr responded to the rumors, denying that he has a “fractured relationship” with his team. He wrote on Twitter after the report: “I’m a Raider. It’s not a ‘popular’ thing to be a Raider right now, but I am and I love it.”

The Athletic released a separate report later in the week that players are questioning Gruden’s accountability following Cooper’s trade, which players found out through news reports.