Contract extensions for Gruden, Allen
As was expected on the heels of a successful 2007 season, Bucs coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen have been signed to dual three-year contract extensions. That would leave Gruden and Allen, who each had one season remaining on their last deals, under contract through the 2011 season.
Gruden's new deal will make him one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL. The yearly salary is in the same range as Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, who signed a deal in September that will pay him $5.5-million to $6-million per year. Gruden earned approximately $4.3-million in 2007. The financial details of Allen's contract weren't immediately clear.
Today in Mobile, Ala., during practices for the Senior Bowl, Gruden expressed gratitude to the team's ownership.
"As I've always said, I have a lot of appreciation for the Glazers,'' Gruden said. "They've been very supportive, and I'm excited about the future of our football team.''
Gruden has shown an ability to rebound from poor seasons. Tampa Bay bounced back from a 5-11 mark in 2004 to notch an 11-5 record in 2005. And in 2007, the Bucs finished 9-7 with a division title despite a 4-12 showing the previous season.
Through it all, the Glazers have backed Gruden.
"I think it's something you feel good about,'' Gruden said. "But at the same time, we feel proud of what we've accomplished. We've won three division titles in six years and won a Super Bowl (in 2002). We've battled through some tough times and we're very excited.''
Allen can be credited with reshaping the team’s roster since his arrival in 2004. Under Allen, the Bucs put themselves in an advantageous salary-cap position last offseason and will benefit from a surplus of cap room this spring, too.
There were early draft-day blunders under Allen, but the team’s recent drafts have uncovered some gems such as guard Arron Sears and safety Tanard Jackson –- second- and fourth-round picks, respectively -- who started as rookies in 2007.
Contract extensions have long been expected for both key members of the team brain trust. Allen said after the season that Gruden’s contract was likely to be addressed once the team dealt with more immediate issues, such as the contracts of several assistant coaches.
At the time, he backed Gruden, saying he had no doubt he would be coaching the Bucs long term.
“Jon has performed well,” Allen said. “This season, the resiliency of this bunch and the tightness of this group was very impressive. Coach Gruden was obviously the leader of the team.”
Regarding his own contract, Allen said, “I think that will take care of itself.”
(Pictured: Jon Gruden, left, and Bruce Allen. Times photo - Bill Serne. Click to enlarge.)