Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis demonstrated again this week that he will not let money influence how he operates his franchise.
The firings of head coach Josh McDaniels, general manager Dave Ziegler and some of the coaching staff will cost Davis approximately $85 million, league sources told ESPN.
Some of those costs will be defrayed by offsets and mitigation, but the firings were, as one source described to ESPN, “an expensive move nonetheless.”
The costs didn’t stop there for the Raiders, who also reworked the contracts of interim head coach Antonio Pierce and interim GM Champ Kelly.
Some sources around the organization say Davis isn’t worried about money — he’s worried about putting together a winning organization, which is what led to this week’s shakeup, costs be damned.
“Unfortunately, I had great hopes for Josh and Dave,” Davis told ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez on Wednesday. “It just seemed we were going in the wrong direction. So, with the trade deadline, I just felt it was time to make a change, time to make a move.”
Some sources had predicted the firings were coming. One source close to the team texted ESPN after the Raiders lost 30-12 to the Bears and undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent on Oct. 22: “Just heard if they lost on MNF bad [against the Lions], McDaniels is [gone].”
Nobody would validate that source’s text in the week leading up to the Raiders’ loss on “Monday Night Football,” but the thinking was clear enough: Davis’ patience was wearing thin.
After Las Vegas lost 26-14 to the Lions on Monday night, Davis personally apologized to a group of Raiders players for wasting their season, league sources told ESPN, and confided in a small group of people within the organization that it was time to make a change.
Pierce will become the 12th different person to coach a game for the Raiders over the past 20 seasons, including interim coaches — the most of any NFL franchise over that span. Pierce will be the eighth coach, interim or regular, for the Raiders since Davis took over control of the team after the death of his father, Al Davis, is October 2011. Pierce follows McDaniels, Rich Bisaccia, Jon Gruden, Jack Del Rio, Tony Sparano, Dennis Allen and Hue Jackson.
The instability unsurprisingly has come with a price — aside from the financial one — to Davis. The Raiders have not won a division title since 2002, tied with the Jets for the NFL’s third-longest active drought, behind only the Browns (1989) and Lions (1993).
Davis said he was “intrigued” enough by Pierce’s resume — including a nine-year NFL career at linebacker, one Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl title with the New York Giants, against whom he will make his NFL head-coaching debut Sunday — to have a sit-down with him.
“Seemed like a fresh approach,” Davis said. “Seemed like the adjustment we need at this time. I was impressed.”
Davis added that Pierce “understands the culture of the Raiders, and that’s important to me. I felt very good about it.”
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