“Where this team is right now is my fault,” Davis told Gutierrez.
Davis spoke on many subjects, but the most interesting was the Khalil Mack trade. He said the controversial trade of Mack to the Chicago Bears wasn’t Gruden’s fault.
“Jon wanted him,” Davis said, according to ESPN.
Mark Davis said Jon Gruden not to blame for Khalil Mack trade
Davis said after the Raiders gave Derek Carr a five-year, $125 million extension in June of 2017, they offered Mack an extension that would have made him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. Mack and his agent Joel Segal wanted to wait.
Then Gruden was hired, and Davis said he spoke to Mack right away. That was the last time they talked. Segal made a contract proposal to the Raiders at the combine in February that “was not going to happen, was not doable for us,” and the lines of communication were cut off according to Davis.
“From that point on, [Mack] would not talk to anyone in our organization,” Davis said. “Not Reggie [McKenzie, Oakland’s general manager], not Jon, not anybody.”
Davis said he expected Mack to play the final year of his rookie contract, but then he heard from players who knew Mack that he was going to hold out.
“At that point, I said, ‘F it. The guy hasn’t talked to anybody. We’ve got to do something,'” Davis told Gutierrez.
Davis said he doesn’t have bad feelings toward Mack, but he wishes Mack would have at least talked to Gruden, McKenzie and played this season. It turned out well for Mack, who got a six-year, $141 million deal and is a key part of the Bears, who are in first place in the NFC North.
Davis said “to blame Jon, for Khalil Mack not being here, is absolutely not the truth.”
“Everybody thinks that Jon’s the one who wanted to get rid of him. Jon wanted him badly. Why wouldn’t you want this guy?” Davis told ESPN. “Reggie wanted him badly. And I wanted him badly, too. But, if in fact we were going to give the type of money that we were going to give to him, and we had Derek on that type of a [contract], how were we going to go ahead and build this football team, with all the holes that we had?”
Jon Gruden throughout his career
Jon Gruden throughout his career
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe (84) talks to receivers coach Jon Gruden during a 30-20 loss to the Detroit Lions on January 2, 1994, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. (Photo by Betsy Peabody Rowe/Getty Images)
21 Jul 1998: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the 1998 Oakland Raiders Training Camp in Napa, California. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn /Allsport
27 Sep 1998: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at the Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The Raiders defeated the Cowboys 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport
17 Oct 1999: Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders talks to quarterback Rich Gannon #12 on the sidelines during the game against the Buffalo Bills at the Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Raiders defeated the Bills 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1983 -- Pictured: (l-r) Raiders head coach Jon Gruden during an interview with host Jay Leno on January 22, 2001 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
ALAMEDA, UNITED STATES: Former San Francisco 49ers wide-receiver Jerry Rice (L) responds to questions after being introduced as a new Oakland Raider by head coach Jon Gruden 05 June 2001 at the Raiders facility in Alameda, California. The 12-Time Pro Bowler, and 2-Time NFL Player of the Year signed with the Raiders after 16 seasons with the 49ers. Rice told the media that he looks good in Silver and Black. AFP PHOTO / John G. MABANGLO (Photo credit should read JOHN G. MABANGLO/AFP/Getty Images)
With Oakland Raiders' quarterback Rich Gannon (12) beside him, Raiders' head coach Jon Gruden smiles after the Raiders Tim Brown returned a punt 88-yards for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the third quarter of their game at the Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California, on December 9, 2001. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs by a score of 28-26. REUTERS/Susan Ragan LD
6 Jan 2002: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders talks to an official during the game against the New York Jets at Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Jets won 24-22. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit : Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Jon Gruden celebrates as he is introduced as the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a press conference, Tampa, Florida, February 20, 2002. At 38, Gruden agreed to a five-year 17.5 million dollar deal and is the youngest coach in the NFL. (Photo by Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images)
DETROIT - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 15, 2002 in Detroit, Michigan. The Buccaneers won 23-20. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 24: Jon Gruden head coach of the NFC Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers answers questions during a press conference on January 24, 2003 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. The Buccaneers will face the Oakland Raiders in Superbowl XXXVII on Sunday January 26, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coach Jon Gruden (R) celebrates victory just
before the end of Super Bowl XXXVII, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego,
January 26, 2003. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders
48-21. REUTERS/Win McNamee
SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 26: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers holds aloft the Lombardi Trophy as he celebrates after the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Buccaneers won 48-21. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches his team take on the Buffalo Bills on September 18, 2005 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden yells during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Buccaneers defeated the Bengals, 14-13, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, Sunday, October 15, 2006. (Photo by Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS - OCTOBER 7: Quarterback Jeff Garcia #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers listens to head coach Jon Gruden against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game October 7, 2007 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 19: Coach Mike Holmgren of the Seattle Seahawks hugs coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after play at Raymond James Stadium on October 19, 2008 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Former head coach of the Oakland Raiders and now ESPN Monday Night Football Analyst Jon Gruden looks on during pre-game warm ups before an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 18, 2012 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
BEREA, OH - AUGUST 15, 2014: ESPN's Monday Night Football Analyst and former NFL head coach Jon Gruden talks with owner Jimmy Haslam of the Cleveland Browns the sideline during a training camp practice on August 15, 2014 at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. Cleveland will play the Washington Redskins on August 18 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - DEC 18: MNF announcer and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden speaks to the fans as he is Inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor during the regular season game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 18, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ALAMEDA, CA - JANUARY 09: Oakland Raiders new head coach Jon Gruden speaks during a news conference at Oakland Raiders headquarters on January 9, 2018 in Alameda, California. Jon Gruden has returned to the Oakland Raiders after leaving the team in 2001. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Davis happy with Gruden
Davis hit on many other topics with Gutierrez. He said Carr “is the franchise quarterback right now” and excused his struggles by saying he’s playing behind an injured offensive line and throwing to receivers like Jordy Nelson and Seth Roberts who are “not putting the fear of God in anybody.”
He talked about the uncertainty of 2019. The Raiders don’t have a lease to play anywhere next season. Davis said he has a completed lease ready for the Oakland City Council to sign, and he wants to be in Oakland next season because he “can’t turn on the fans.”
Gutierrez ended his illuminating piece with the topic everyone is curious about: How does Davis feel about Gruden now? Davis gave Gruden a 10-year, $100 million contract, and his team has turned into the punchline of the league.
“I understood it was going to be a lot of work, but Jon has a 10-year contract,” Davis told Gutierrez. “I know how hard Jon Gruden works. I know how much he wants to win. And how much days like today are killing him.
“Having Jon Gruden here was the endgame for me. Jon’s going to be the stability here. Jon’s going nowhere. That’s just the way it is.”