The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas

The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas

The Raiders no longer belong to Oakland.

The Silver and Black were given the approval to relocate to Las Vegas on Monday in a vote of NFL ownership at the league meetings in Phoenix.

This wasn’t a surprise. Not one bit.

Approval was expected, and the only owner who voted against the move was Miami's Stephen Ross. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news.

The Raiders worked a sweetheart deal with Las Vegas on a reported $1.7 billion stadium project that includes $750 million in public funds and financing by Bank of America. The public will also pick up the tab on infrastructure improvements.

That option contrasts an Oakland plan slammed by the NFL, which wasn’t considered viable despite Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf's repeated statements to the contrary. The Raiders haven’t participated in East Bay stadium efforts, focusing solely on their Las Vegas project over the past year.

Despite that fact, Raiders owner Mark Davis felt conflicted over Monday's events. Leaving the East Bay was not originally his intended goal. 

"I have mixed feelings, obviously," Davis said. "I love Oakland, I love the fans in Oakland, and I know that there’s going to be disappointment and maybe some anger. I just hope that in the future, as we play in Oakland this year, that they understand that it wasn’t the players, it wasn’t the coaches that made this decision, but it was me that made it, and if they have anybody to talk to about it, it should be me. I will, in the coming days, try to explain to them what went into making this difficult decision."

The Raiders decided to pursue relocation, and built an attractive plan that doesn’t include NFL-adverse attachments to gambling interests. It did with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was an investor, but they got clear of that when Adelson backed out in February. They lost him and investment firm Goldman Sachs at that time but recovered quickly when BofA hopped on board. Davis acknowledged the project wouldn't have succeeded without Adelson's sway and ability to secure public funds. 

NFL owners discussed the Raiders application to relocate on Monday morning, and it quickly moved toward a vote. A league source said the Raiders met little resistance in the meeting room. The last leg of this year long quest went smooth, with the team having answered most questions about getting a new stadium in a decidedly smaller market. The stadium and finance committees reccomended approval, and the league did so shortly after

The Raiders are the third NFL team to relocate in the last 14 months, which is a bad look for the league.

"We work very hard, and never want to see a relocation of a franchise," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "That means exhausting our options and doing everything we can to keep a team in its existing market. There is a stadium situation in Oakland that needed to be addressed, and I think our friends in Oakland agreed with that. It’s been an issue for well over a decade."

The Las Vegas move is contingent on a few unresolved items, but there isn’t anything expected to halt this action. A lease between the Raiders and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority isn't complete, though a source said most points have been worked out. The pact should get done in April. 

The Raiders haven't formally announced a stadium site, though a source said the team has an option to buy land just off the Las Vegas Strip, near the Interstate 15 freeway and Russell Rd. to build the stadium. 

While the Raiders were approved to relocate, moving vans won’t line up quite yet. Their new Las Vegas stadium won’t be complete until 2020, and the Raiders plan to play in Oakland the next two seasons. The Raiders have a team option to play at Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. They’d be in limbo for 2019, though Davis said Monday he hoped to play in the Bay Area that season. They also have options to play in Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium should the Bay Area turn hostile, though it isn’t NFL ready without renovations and won't be used again after the new stadium is built. The new stadium will host the Raiders and the UNLV football team. 

The Raiders will leave when ready, abandoning Oakland for the second time in 35 seasons. Late owner Al Davis left for Los Angeles in 1982, and returned in 1995 after Oakland offered to expanded Oakland Coliseum. The city is still paying back debt on that renovation. Mayor Schaaf said no public funds would be used for stadium construction, though owner Mark Davis’ major sticking points came over use and control of land on the Coliseum site, what he viewed as poor negotiating tactics and conflicts with the Athletics. The A’s also play at Oakland Coliseum on a lease that runs through 2024, though it has an escape clause had the Raiders locked down a football-only stadium there. Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney said Monday that the Athletics' presence on the Coliseum site was a complicating factor in getting a deal done. 

Schaaf issued a statement decrying the Raiders leaving town. She hoped for a different outcome, and was never able to formulate a plan NFL ownership would accept. 

“I am disappointed that the Raiders and the NFL chose Las Vegas over Oakland when we had a fully-financed, shovel-ready stadium project that would have kept the Raiders in Oakland where they were born and raised.

“I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises. As a lifelong Oaklander, my heart aches today for the Raider Nation. These are the most committed and passionate fans any city or team could hope to have. They deserved better.”

Carr discusses contract negotiations with Raiders: 'These things take time'

Carr discusses contract negotiations with Raiders: 'These things take time'

Raiders general Reggie McKenzie plans to extend quarterback Derek Carr’s contract this offseason. That isn’t a new thing, something that has been in the works for some time. He re-affirmed that fact last week, citing his team’s commitment to work out a long-term deal likely the biggest in franchise history.

Carr was reportedly frustrated with the pace of contract talks after the NFL draft – they’re supposed to heat up this spring and summer – but said he believes a deal will get worked out before training camp begins.

That’s his deadline for an offseason deal, the point where he wants focus honed on football.

“I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie will work it out,” Carr, a Fresno State alum, told the Fresno Bee. “I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players.

“I have complete faith it will get done before training camp. These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”

The sides have discussed parameters of a long-term deal, with greater specifics to be ironed out in the future. Carr has long said he wants to be a Raider his entire career. The Raiders want him as the public face of their franchise. A new deal is expected by all parties, a sentiment that has never wavered on either side.

Carr is scheduled to make a $977,519 in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.

Raiders offseason program intensifies as OTA sessions begin

Raiders offseason program intensifies as OTA sessions begin

The Raiders offseason program is five weeks old. Players have lifted weights. They’ve improved cardiovascular shape. They’ve done drills in position groups and discussed schematics. They’ve added rookies to a group now 90 strong.

On Monday, they can finally put on helmets. They still can’t wear pads or have full contact, but the Raiders can play 11-on-11. Receivers will be covered. Quarterback Derek Carr will throw into traffic. Generally speaking, the competition cranks up a bit.

The NFL collective bargaining agreement has strict mandates regarding offseason activity, and a period formally called “Phase III” allows for more realistic on-field football work.

The Raiders will conduct 10 OTA sessions over the next three weeks. The media can watch three of them. Tuesday is the first, with another in each of the next two weeks. These sessions are technically voluntary, though the Raiders generally hover around perfect attendance. Head coach Jack Del Rio prefers his team be unified in the offseason. Players know it and show up.

There is a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15 which wraps the offseason program and starts a quiet period that extends until training camp begins in late July.

These OTAs offer an opportunity for new players to learn the system, for adjustments to be made and for chemistry to be built heading into a 2017 season where expectations are high.