Davis explains why talks between Raiders, Oakland went south

Davis explains why talks between Raiders, Oakland went south

PHOENIX – Raiders owner Mark Davis has given Oakland and Alameda County officials the silent treatment over the past year.

He has ignored attempts to keep his Raiders in the East Bay, choosing instead to focus on a stadium proposal in Las Vegas. Relocation was a goal achieved on Monday morning, when NFL owners approved a move by a 31-1 vote.

Oakland mayor made several last-second attempts to sway ownership, hoping they would help bring him back to the negotiating table.

Davis never thawed his cold shoulder. He explained why after Las Vegas approval was secure.

While the Raiders and Oakland officials clashed over land use and control of the Coliseum site, a schism occurred roughly a year ago. The Raiders and Chargers were angling to share a stadium in Carson, while the Rams wanted to build a facility in Inglewood. The Raiders were still open an Oakland return at that point, but official’s actions changed his outlook.

“I think it turned during the L.A. (relocation attempt),” Davis said. “Before the vote for Los Angeles, Oakland had an opportunity to come in and make a presentation to the league. They came in with a five-page (submission) that had nothing to do with anything. They claimed that they would wait for us to lose the L.A. vote, and then come back with all the leverage.”

Davis didn’t view that as good-faith negotiations, and still went back to Oakland after losing the L.A. battle to the Rams, and the first option to join them to the Chargers.

“We came back to Oakland and negotiated a one-year lease with two years of options and talked about getting together to discuss a long-term future together,” Davis said. “A week later, I got a call from one of the (Alameda County) supervisors and told me, ‘Mark, the lease you just negotiated and the options are not going to be valid.’

At that point, we ended up signing that lease anyway, but decided we had to start looking elsewhere to find a long-term solution.

He found a willing partner in Las Vegas and Nevada. That state’s legislature approved $750 million in public funds for stadium construction, and will contribute even more to infrastructure improvements.

That’s a sweetheart deal Oakland couldn’t match. The city ultimately presented a plan NFL owners didn’t consider actionable, which wasn’t a deterrent to a positive relocation vote.

Not that it mattered much. Davis committed to Las Vegas, and remained focused on that.

“The commitment made by the legislature and the governor was very strong,” Davis said. “I think my commitment was strong as well, and we worked out a deal.”

McKenzie, Del Rio ‘unified since Day 1,’ ushering Raiders into next phase

McKenzie, Del Rio ‘unified since Day 1,’ ushering Raiders into next phase

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Jack Del Rio have done three pre-draft press conferences now. They’ve got the routine down, knowing when to deflect questions, when to put people off the scent and, more importantly, how to seem unpredictable.

They were in lockstep again Friday, less than a week before the 2017 NFL Draft.

During their first, McKenzie offered one criticism of his head coach.

“Can you guys get Jack out of my office?” McKenzie said in 2015, with tongue firmly in cheek.

The rhetorical question was answered with a laugh. McKenzie was acknowledging how much Del Rio and staff wanted to support the scouting process. McKenzie ultimately pulls the trigger on draft day, but Del Rio has a loud voice in the room as he looks for players who fit his locker room and his schemes.

McKenzie has open ears, taking advice from the entire coaching staff while arranging his draft board. This time of year especially, coaches and scouts are working together.

“It’s been unified since Day 1,” Del Rio said. “Reggie and I are very unified and much on the same mission and that is to bring a world championship home to this organization. Everything we’re doing is attacking that, adding these impact players where we can.”

The pair was focused on improving a lackluster roster that featured Derek Carr and Khalil Mack but finished 3-13 the year before. Now their partnership is entering Phase II.

They must decide which players to add, and decide which previously drafted players to keep. There are some obvious extensions in the works, with Carr, Mack and Gabe Jackson. They had to let some homegrown talent go in free agency as they attempt to upgrade depth and build a championship roster that can build on last year’s success.

“There’s a whole different phase that we’re about to go through as an organization as you begin to mature, some of those players have to be re-signed or not. Those are decisions you have to make in all of this. This is year three for us working together and I feel like the relationship with the scouts and the coaches and the sharing of information is excellent. We want to continue to work that way.”

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

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AP

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

The Raiders have an opening in their secondary.

Finding a slot cornerback is a top priority with DJ Hayden now in Detroit. TJ Carrie is an option there, but the Raiders could add a young, versatile talent capable of taking a more prominent role down the line.

That’s true despite the fact Sean Smith signed a free-agent deal through 2019 last year and David Amerson received a contract extension through the 2020 season. Those contracts, however, become pay-as-you-go deals after this season.

The dead money goes away, freeing the Raiders to look for long-term upgrades if they see fit.

Head coach Jack Del Rio loves creating competition and depth, especially at such an important position in today’s NFL. The Raiders like larger, physical cornerbacks with ball skills, and there are plenty in this year’s draft.

Many analysts have the Raiders taking a cornerback at No. 24 overall, and that’s a realistic possibility. They could certainly look to help last year’s No. 24-ranked secondary in the early rounds.

Let’s take a look at some top options available in this week’s draft:

Good fits:There are quite a few quality cornerbacks who could be available at No. 24 overall, even if there’s an early run on the position.

Oakland native and Washington alum Kevin King visited the Raiders during the pre-draft process, and certainly fits what the Raiders like in a cornerback. He’s confident and aggressive, unafraid to use great physical traits to make plays on the ball. He’s tall and long and isn’t afraid to tackle.

USC’s Adoree Jackson has the quality ball skills the Raiders like, and is adept high-pointing the ball. Analysts say he can play several coverage techniques and has the agility to make up for mistakes. He can work in the slot, but at 5-foot-10 isn’t as tall as the Raiders like. They’d have to take him in the first round. He may not last beyond that.

San Jose native and Colorado product Chidobe Awuzie is another interesting local defensive back ready to turn pro. He can play outside or in the slot, and analysts say he has excellent one-on-one coverage skills but needs tackling work. He was a solid slot blitzer at Colorado, and could fill an immediate need crucial against so many three and four receiver sets.

Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White has experience playing the slot, and could help right away there before transferring outside if asked. He can cover extremely well, though analysts say he isn’t much of a tackler. He might be a tweener as far as the Raiders are concerned, not worthy of the No. 24 pick but long gone before the Raiders pick in the second round.

Central Florida’s Shaquill Griffin visited the Raiders this spring, and rightfully so. A willing run defender with good ball skills and tackling ability who could be available in the third round should intrigue them.