Gutierrez: Kicking Tatupu's tires fine -- what's the fit?


Gutierrez: Kicking Tatupu's tires fine -- what's the fit?

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comSo reports are floating that former Seattle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is scheduled to visit the Raiders' training camp and while the knee-jerk reaction is he would be a great addition to Oakland's defense, you have to wonder where, exactly, he would fit in.Plus, the Raiders have more pressing needs, like locking up tight end Zach Miller, who, reportedly is visiting the Seahawks himself. Oh, that Tom Cable is a crafty coach, ain't he?But I digress.Tatupu, 28, is a three-time Pro Bowl and one-time All-Pro middle linebacker. And last time anyone checked, the Raiders already have their middle linebacker of the present and future in last year's top draft choice -- Rolando McClain.
But here's where things could get interesting, with a heavy emphasis on could. There have been rumblings all offseason of the Raiders potentially switching to a base 3-4 defense. That would make room for both McClain, who played inside in a 3-4 in college at Alabama, and Tatupu. But then what do you do with Oakland's fearsome front four of Lamarr Houston, Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour and Matt Shaughnessy?I asked Kelly last week if the Raiders planned on staying in a 4-3 under newold defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan."Yeah, it's basically the same," Kelly said. "I mean, coach (is) going to bring a couple tweaks to it. We're going to play a lot more different schemes but, I mean, we're basically going to do what we always do -- try to get after people up front and try to make plays in the backfield."And while Tatupu is coming off arthroscopic surgery of both knees in January, it doesn't hurt the Raiders to kick the tires on another high-motor interior linebacker who led the Seahawks in tackles his first four seasons in the league.Especially if he'd be open to backing up McClain, who has been impressive early in camp, andor coming in on a reduced salary. At 6-feet, 250 pounds, he's somewhat undersized but his coverage skills leave something to be desired as a weakside linebacker. He only played in five games in 2009 due to a pectoral injury but played a full season in 2010.Whatever the case may be, the Raiders flirting with Tatupu, cut this weekend by Seattle after an 88-tackle season (his fewest in a non-injury season), should not be more of a priority than re-signing Miller.Of course, there is the thought that Oakland has to first get its in-house finances in order by re-structuring Kamerion Wilbley's 11-plus million franchise tag tender to a long-term contract to deal with its cap issues before inking Miller."We're still working," Wimbley said following Sunday's practice. "I should have something soon."

Lott-led group still working to keep Raiders in Oakland, 'playing to win'

Lott-led group still working to keep Raiders in Oakland, 'playing to win'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oakland civic leaders and deep-pocketed investors fighting to keep the Raiders from moving insist they are still in the game despite team owner Mark Davis formally applying to the NFL to relocate to Las Vegas.

A local investment group that includes Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott said Thursday they continue to negotiate with government officials, the team and the NFL to build a $1.25 billion, 55,000-seat stadium in Oakland.

"We are in this game and we are playing to win," Lott's group said in a statement. The statement said the Raiders' filing Thursday was expected and done to "keep its options open in Las Vegas."

The Raiders have been seeking to replace their dilapidated home for years. The Coliseum has suffered from sewage backups and other infrastructure problems. It's also the only remaining NFL stadium to also be home to a baseball team - the Athletics - and lacks many of the modern, money-making features of new stadiums.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has been negotiating with Davis and investors to find a new home for the team in the city but has said public financing is not an option. She and other local boosters support the bid by Lott's group to keep the team on Oakland.

"Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty," Schaaf said in a prepared statement.

The city and Alameda County still owe a combined $100 million for upgrades made to the stadium in 1995 to lure the Raiders back to Oakland after the team spent the 14 previous years playing in Los Angeles. The city and county were left holding the bag after personal seat licenses failed to cover the cost of the $220 million renovation that added more than 10,000 seats and luxury boxes.

The city is willing to give the team 60 acres of land on the Coliseum site to build a new stadium.

The local investors are competing with a Las Vegas plan that calls for $750 million in hotel room tax revenue, $650 million from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson's company and $500 million from the Raiders and the NFL.

League owners are expected to vote on the proposed move in March.

Local boosters argue that Oakland offers a better football venue than Las Vegas, a transient tourist town with no professional football history. They say the San Francisco Bay Area's television market dwarves the Las Vegas region's and that it will cost the team $500 million to relocate.

"I think we continue to offer a far superior deal," said Scott Haggerty, president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Haggerty is also on the board that manages the Coliseum.

"I think that Mark Davis has been very patient in trying to come up with a stadium plan and I don't blame him for keeping his options open," Haggerty said. "But the Raiders belong in Oakland."

Haggerty and others also say that a Raiders move out of the region threatens to alienate fans who re-embraced the team after it left Oakland after the 1981 season and played for 14 years in Los Angeles only to move back to the Bay Area.

Davis has said the team will continue to play in Oakland until the Las Vegas stadium is finished, likely by the 2020 season. The Raiders have two one-year options to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018 and are already taking season ticket renewals for next season.

"I'm incredulous this could happen again," said 57-year-old Jim Zelinski, a lifelong Oakland resident and Raiders fan. "I'm disgusted, to be quite frank."

Nonetheless, Zelinski has co-founded a fan organization that is lobbying the Raiders and the NFL to keep the team in Oakland.

"We want to combat the narrative that most Raider fans are neutral and don't care if the team moves to Las Vegas," said Zelinski, who must decide by next month if he wants to renew his season tickets. "The Raiders need to do the right thing."

Mayor Schaaf: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

Mayor Schaaf: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

The Oakland Raiders have officially filed for relocation to Las Vegas. And Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has responded. 

“It’s no surprise that the Raiders have filed for relocation," Schaaf said in a statement. "Oakland welcomes the chance to show them and the NFL’s other owners why Oakland is the only home for the Raiders and always will be.

“Our winning team of the Lott Group, the County and my colleagues on the Oakland City Council has accomplished so much in the last few months. We’ve identified the mechanisms to responsibly finance public infrastructure improvements, we have in the Lott Group a private partner prepared to finance stadium construction, and we have an entitled site for a world-class NFL stadium and new development that enhances fan experience while invigorating East Oakland's economy. 

“But this isn’t all Oakland has to offer. Oakland’s Raiders stadium will be on the most transit-accessible site in the nation, in the sixth largest television market, and in one of the wealthiest and most innovative regions in the world. But above all else, Oakland has something no other city ever will -- a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded. Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty.

“I look forward to the League giving our team a chance to compete.”

Now that the fate of the Raiders' relocation is in the hands of the NFL owners, a vote could come at the NFL owners meetings in late March. It’s uncertain whether Davis has the votes needed to relocate, but there has been momentum building for such a move over the past several months.

Davis has said that, even if the Raiders are approved for relocation, he plans on playing in Oakland the next few years while a Las Vegas stadium is built. The team has already sent out season ticket pricing to fans for the 2017 season. The Raiders have one-year team options to play Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Las Vegas stadium isn’t expected to be ready until the 2020 season.

The Office of the Mayor Libby Schaaf and Scott Bair contributed to this report.