Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden might have made a costly mistake this week when he expressed interest in San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Richard Sherman during a podcast appearance, despite him not being a free agent.
Gruden was a guest on sportscaster Cris Collinsworth’s podcast, which features Sherman, when he made a pitch at the five-time Pro Bowler who is still under contract with the 49ers until March 17.
“I know there’s tampering rules out there and I don’t want to bring up anything that might create a problem for you, because I know that you’ve been fined a few shekels over the years,” Collinsworth began by saying — but Gruden didn’t heed his warning.
“I’ve been fined, I’ve been punished very, very harshly,” he said. “Richard Sherman, if you are a free agent, which there is a rumor you are, we are looking for an alpha presence in our secondary. Somebody that could play this Hawk 3-press technique with the read step.”
He continued: “If you’re available and interested, maybe you and I can get together at some point off air.”
Sherman simply replied: “There’s a conversation to be had, for sure. I am free and available these days.”
Gruden might have placed himself in the hot seat as one general manager told Pro Football Talk: “This is blatant tampering.”
According to the NFL’s policy “Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player to that player’s agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy.”
Gruden could be fined as a result or, in an extreme case, the Raiders could be stripped of a draft pick.