The Oakland Raiders have 12 games remaining this season, but a major focus will be on the days immediately following the season. January promises to be filled with movement as the Raiders close in on their next permanent coach.

Of course, the speculation season has begun. While the 0-4 Raiders were on their bye Sunday, the coach-talk machine was revving.

Pro Football Talk reported former Seattle coach and Cleveland executive Mike Holmgren was at the Raiders’ facility last week, and he could be a coaching candidate. The NFL Network reported that San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh should be watched in the Raiders’ search.

These names are being mentioned after last week’s reports that former Oakland coach and current ESPN "Monday Night football" analyst Jon Gruden could be involved as a candidate.

My thoughts?

It will remain high-speculation season in Oakland until the job is filled. All of these names were expected to be part of the speculation. But nothing is going to happen for months.

Remember, ESPN.com reported in February, 2013, that the Raiders interviewed Holmgren for a leadership position. So, if he was in the building again, last week, it would not be a surprise. He has a relationship with general manager Reggie McKenzie and Ron Wolf, a close Mark Davis advisor. So, Holmgren could always be in the mix.

Harbaugh’s name will be connected to many NFL and college teams because of his tenuous contract situation with the 49ers. The fact that his family loves the Bay Area and Harbaugh was an Oakland assistant and reveres the late Al Davis, are other reasons why he will be connected to the Raiders.

But because Harbaugh is under contact, an NFL team would have to give compensation to San Francisco for the coach. With Oakland in the rebuilding phase, it might be difficult for Davis to surrender premium picks in addition to the hefty price tag that would come along with Harbaugh.

Remember, the Raiders have never been known for making big-name splashes with their coaching hires. The Grudens and John Maddens of their world were young assistants when hired. Perhaps that approach will change this time around. One thing is for certain, the big names will continue to be connected as this speculation journey takes off.


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