In the wake of the franchise's second division title in three seasons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday rewarded general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Jon Gruden with three-year contract extensions through the 2011 season.
Both men were entering the final year of their respective contracts with the team and, at the outset of the 2007 season, there was considerable speculation their jobs might be in jeopardy if Tampa Bay finished out of the playoffs.
The Bucs responded by capturing the NFC South with a 9-7 record, rallying from a last-place finish and a 4-12 mark in 2006, while laying the groundwork for a solid future. Tampa Bay was able to claim the division title despite a dramatic roster overhaul that featured five new starters on the defensive side and a new quarterback in free agent Jeff Garcia.
Although the Bucs were eliminated by the New York Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs, Gruden and Allen have replenished the roster by infusing much needed youth, and were able to overcome injuries to key performers.
Allen said earlier this month that the club will head
into the upcoming free agency signing period about $23 million
under the salary cap.
Financial details of the contracts were not available, but the extensions were hardly a surprise, with Bucs management indicating immediately after the season that new deals would be negotiated with the two men. Gruden earned
about $4.3 million in 2007.
Gruden and Allen were attending Senior Bowl workouts in Mobile,
Ala., and unavailable for comment.
Gruden, 44, has compiled a 51-50 record, including playoff games, in six seasons with the Bucs. The highlight of his tenure, of course, was a Super Bowl XXXVII victory in 2002. Since that championship, the Bucs are only 36-44 in the regular season. But they have twice won division crowns, both times after finishing last the previous season, and this year's reshaping of the roster seems to have set Tampa Bay up well for the future.
Before joining the Bucs in 2002, in essentially a trade in which Tampa Bay surrendered four high-round draft picks and $8 million in cash, Gruden was the Raiders' head coach. He compiled a 40-28 record in four seasons with Oakland from 1998-2001.
Allen worked with Gruden in Oakland and joined him in Tampa Bay in 2004. During his nine seasons with the Raiders, Allen, who has a strong background in salary cap management and contract negotiations, was named the league's executive of the year in 2002. Allen was actually a senior administrator with Oakland in 2002 when the Gruden-led Bucs defeated the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
The two men have a strong and longstanding working relationship, and that has been key to talent acquisition for the Bucs, and to the ongoing upgrading of the roster.
Allen is the son of Hall of Fame head coach George Allen.
Last week, the Bucs signed all three of their coordinators -- Monte Kiffin (defense), Bill Muir (offense) and Richard Biaaccia (special teams) -- to contract extensions.
Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.