Ron Meeks (in the background) is likely to return as a defensive assistant coach. (Photo by John Clark)
CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers could be interested in hiring a Gruden as an assistant coach – Jay Gruden, that is.
Gruden, the brother of former Tampa Bay Buccanners coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, could be headed to Carolina, an unnamed source told the Virginian-Pilot. According to the Virginia Beach-based newspaper, Gruden said he could hear if he's getting an NFL job shortly. "Maybe Sunday, or Monday. We'll see how it goes," Gruden said, although he wouldn't specify where.
It’s expected Gruden might be up for Carolina’s quarterbacks coach job, not the vacant offensive coordinator position. The Panthers could certainly use a quarterbacks coach to tutor young Jimmy Clausen.
Gruden, a former college quarterback at Louisville, is the head coach of the UFL’s Virginia Destroyers, which just relocated to Virginia Beach and were formerly known as the Florida Tuskers.
He's a legend of sorts in the Arena League, having won six championships there.
Gruden also worked on his brother's staff in Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl ring there.
"If Jay wasn't up for an NFL job, then the NFL's crazy," said Doug Williams, the Destroyers' general manager told the Virginian-Pilot. "I'd be disappointed to lose him. But if he gets the chance to be an offensive coordinator or a quarterbacks coach, I'm gonna be happy for Jay, and so should everybody else."
MEEKS COULD STAY: In other coaching news, the Panthers are expected to retain defensive coordinator Ron Meeks, although he’ll likely have to take a demotion and work as a position coach if he accepts the position, according to a league source. Meeks was hired as a replacement for Mike Trgovac in 2009 and the Panthers finished that season eighth in overall defense and ninth in points allowed. However, the Panthers struggled with injuries most of last season and fell to 18th in yards and 26th in points allowed.
The Panthers will, as previously reported, retain defensive quality control coach Sam Mills III, the son of linebacker Sam Mills.
Meanwhile, several of Carolina’s former assistant coaches seem poised to join new Denver Broncos coach John Fox as has also been previously reported. Offensive line coach Dave Magazu, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers and linebackers coach Richard Smith are all likely to head West.
Running backs coach Jim Skipper could join them in some capacity, although several Carolina players have lobbied to owner Jerry Richardson to bring him back.
Also, former tight ends coach Geep Chryst has been liked to the San Francisco 49ers, although that deal is not done.