Raiders leaving Oakland because not enough interest in them staying

Raiders leaving Oakland because not enough interest in them staying

The Oakland Raiders are down to their final week of existence, and you can tell it’s going to end because the leaks from owners who usually stay buttoned-up on NFL owner business are whispering to their approved receptacles.

They have essentially said that the 24 votes are pretty much there for Mark Davis to take the team to Las Vegas, and harp on the fact that Oakland offered them no alternative to voting for relocation.

And what they are saying here is that Oakland would not cheerfully play ball in the NFL’s most popular form of extortion – the city-pays-for-the-stadium-and-the-team-takes-the-money dodge.

This is important to note, because when the vote is finally held, there will be attempts to explain the Raiders in Las Vegas as Oakland’s failure, when in fact the actual shorthand history is this:

1. Years of sales, marketing and on-field neglect made the Raiders a poor revenue generator by changing NFL standards. The Raiders had been making money but they were also accepting supplemental revenue sharing from the league which was about to dry up.

2. Oakland and Alameda County chose not to bail out the Raiders A SECOND TIME after getting royally screwed the first time. Mount Davis is among the greatest architectural mistakes of the last three centuries, and it still isn’t close to being paid off, so the city and county made the utterly defensible stand of getting out of the stadium game entirely by making a deal with the Fortress corporation that gave the NFL no leverage – and the NFL loves leverage the way you love puppies.

3. Mark Davis has been eager to show how desperate he is to leave but has been remarkably silent on casting blame toward Oakland (and to that point, nobody in Alameda County government has called Davis any names either). The normal owner tack is to deflect blame by savaging the government that wouldn’t build them palaces, and yet the quiet here would deafen crickets.

4. There has been remarkably little outrage in town over the proposed move, far less than San Diego or St. Louis. This has been considered a fait accompli for awhile now, and even those good souls who desperately wanted to keep the Raiders have been relying on the kindnesses of contrarian owners to save them because it worked as recently as a year ago.

In short, the Raiders are leaving because there isn’t enough interest in them staying.

Alternately:

1. The NFL wants access to the hot international cash that flows freely in Las Vegas.

2. Nevada got hoodwinked by casino owner/king of Las Vegas Sheldon Adelson into pledging $750 million in stadium funds, and though the NFL spurned about half that figure to leave St. Louis a year ago, $750M free and clear would get Warren Buffett’s attention.

3. The NFL owners have always been frustrated by not getting their own way in California, and having managed to screw up Los Angeles twice and then doubled down by screwing up San Diego a year later, their attachment to Oakland has waned. One suspects that if the owners could come up with a good reason to move the 49ers to Beijing, they’d take it.

4. The league is not terribly troubled by the loss of market size (Oakland is half of the sixth-largest TV market, Las Vegas is 40th) because the changing face of sports consumption makes television market size less important with an easily identifiable brand like the Swords Through The Head Guy. As for attendance and local media revenues, the assumption the owners are making is that it can be made up by redefining the fan base as more regional (L.A. and the Bay Area as well as gamblers in general) than local.

5. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, makes big cash by running stadiums through his company Legends, of which he owns a third. He is also a great vote-whipper among his fellow owners. Legends will run the Vegas stadium. Do the math.

So the Raiders move because there is literally no compelling reason to keep them in Oakland save tradition, and nobody cares about tradition any more.

Hell, not even the Raiders care about tradition – they were born to be put in Minnesota, got thrown into Oakland when the NFL beat the AFL into Minneapolis, moved to Los Angeles, and then moved back, and then investigated San Antonio before re-investigating Los Angeles.

But when the story about how this happened is told – by the winners, of course – just remember that this wasn’t Oakland’s failure. It was Al Davis’ failure, and Mark Davis’ failure, and the NFL’s failure – and Las Vegas’ victory, until it becomes a failure too.

After all, three franchise moves in two years means the league is trying to transcend geography, west to east. Seattle, your ass is next.

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.