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Allen on verge of reunion with Gruden

Exec leaves Raiders, likely so he can join Bucs to handle contracts and cap issues.

By RICK STROUD
Published January 7, 2004

photo
Bruce Allen is likely to join the Bucs and give coach Gruden more say over personnel.

TAMPA - Jon Gruden wanted to feel more united with the Bucs front office.

Reunited is more like it.

All signs indicated Tampa Bay has reached an agreement with Raiders senior assistant Bruce Allen to serve as vice president in charge of football operations.

Gruden, who worked for four seasons with Allen in Oakland, is expected to assume more authority over player personnel and the draft. The moves would restructure the Bucs front office, replacing the general manager position with Allen's role.

Gruden's agent, Bob LaMonte, was in Tampa on Monday, presumably negotiating a new contract that would expand the responsibilities of the coach and possibly increase his $3.5-million per year salary.

The Bucs could make a formal announcement today after concluding their interviews with a minority candidate, Broncos pro personnel director Rick Smith, as required by the NFL.

The Raiders on Tuesday announced Allen's resignation after nine seasons. But the club stopped short of confirming he was headed to Tampa Bay.

"Bruce Allen is leaving the Raiders and will announce where he is going in the very near future," Raiders spokesman Artie Gigantino said.

Allen spent a second straight day at San Francisco's SBC Park watching workouts for Saturday's East-West Shrine college all-star game and told several player agents he was heading to Tampa Bay.

The only member of the Bucs front office to attend the Shrine workouts was scouting director Ruston Webster, not director of player personnel Tim Ruskell, another candidate to replace former general manager Rich McKay.

Perhaps sensing the Bucs already have made a decision to hire Allen, Jerry Reese, the Giants director of player personnel, withdrew from an interview with the team Tuesday. Instead, the Bucs moved quickly to arrange an interview today with Smith.

McKay resigned last month to become the Falcons president and general manager. Ruskell, who has worked in some capacity with the team since 1987, interviewed with the Bucs on Friday but likely will have to hope he lands the Dolphins GM post. Assistant GM John Idzik likely will not have his contract renewed and could join McKay in Atlanta.

For the first time since 1995, the Bucs are not expected to have a general manager. Rather, most of the authority over personnel matters will fall to Gruden. Allen, a former player agent before nine years in the Raiders front office, will preside over the salary cap and contract negotiations.

The Bucs are not expected to give up any compensation to the Raiders in exchange for Allen because he never signed a contract with owner Al Davis.

Hours after giving his end-of-season address Dec. 29, Gruden arranged for Allen to secretly fly from Oakland to the Palm Beach home of Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer to interview for the front office position.

Allen, the son of Hall of Fame coach George Allen, is considered a savvy manager of the salary cap, and he negotiated all player contracts with the Raiders.

He worked for four seasons with Gruden in Oakland and managed to acquire veteran stars such as Jerry Rice, Rich Gannon, Bill Romanowski and Rod Woodson.

After butting heads with McKay for two years, Gruden has someone he can trust to help alleviate some of the Bucs' salary cap concerns and bolster a roster that needs rebuilding in several areas.

But because Allen's expertise is in other areas, he might attempt to bring Raiders director of player personnel Mike Lombardi with him to Tampa.

Allen worked in every facet of pro football with his father for the Rams and Redskins.

At 22, Allen was the coach at Occidental College. Three years later, he began his career as a general manager with the Chicago Blitz and Arizona Wranglers of the USFL, with his father as coach. Later, while working as a sports agent, Allen learned the business of negotiating player contracts.

Perhaps having learned from the Bill Parcells debacle to always have a fallback candidate, the Glazers met Monday with Jets assistant general manager Mike Tannenbaum in Tampa. Ruskell interviewed with the Glazers on Friday in Palm Beach. But Gruden wanted Allen all along, and the Glazers apparently listened to their coach.

Other members of Raider nation are expected to join the Bucs, but former coach Bill Callahan may not be one of them.

Callahan, fired as coach last week after going 4-12, the biggest drop by a Super Bowl team, is expected to be a candidate for the job at the University of Nebraska.

But once Allen is aboard, Gruden is expected to make changes to his offensive coaching staff.

- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

[Last modified January 7, 2004, 01:33:45]

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