Seahawks sign TE Miller away from Raiders

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Seahawks sign TE Miller away from Raiders

Aug. 2, 2011

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Paul Gutierrez
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A late blitz from Seattle crushed the Raiders' hopes at re-signing free-agent tight end Zach Miller, who agreed to a reported five-year, 34-million deal with 17 million guaranteed with the Seahawks on Tuesday.

Miller, 25, visited Seattle on Monday and was wooed by the Seahawks brass, which includes Tom Cable, the former Raiders coach who is now Seattle's offensive line and assistant head coach. Miller said the Raiders were in constant contact with him and made an unspecified offer but acknowledged it would be fair to say Cable's presence in Seattle was the tipping point in his decision.

"Coach Cable gave me a call Saturday morning, I believe, and definitely made me feel wanted, how important I'd be to them," Miller told CSN California. "It wasn't about the money for us. It was about the way we felt and how positive things are going in Seattle.

"By no means was this easy. I was drafted by the Raiders, brought in by Al Davis, who was instrumental in the early part of my career."

But Miller was also swayed by his familiarity with Cable's offense the past two seasons and, also, the presence of former Raiders left guard Robert Gallery in Seattle.

"There's a trust and familiarity there," Miller said. "That played a big part."

Also, the 2007 second-round draft pick said he was "surprised" he had not been signed to a contract heading into the final year of his rookie contract.

"I was hoping for an extension, but it didn't happen," Miller said. "That's business."

Following the 2010 season, the first-time Pro Bowler was slapped with first- and third-round tenders, rather than the franchise tag, by the Raiders just before the NFL lockout struck.

And when the four-and-a-half month-long work stoppage ended, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulated that fourth-year veterans, rather than the previous sixth-year rule, would be unrestricted free agents.

It is purportedly one of the reasons Davis and the Raiders abstained from ratifying the owners' version of the CBA as Miller, Oakland's most productive and valuable offensive weapon the past three seasons, hit the open market. Ironically, Miller was the Raiders' union player rep.

It had been quiet for Miller, who had not been linked to any potential suitors, until this weekend. Enter Cable, who had been eviscerated by Davis in that epic January media conference presenting Hue Jackson as Cable's successor.

"I got a feel and the fit felt right with me and my wife," Miller said. "It felt like somewhere I was wanted and somewhere my wife and I could be."

Still, Miller said he was in "constant communication" with Jackson and Raiders tight ends coach Adam Henry.

While Miller was being wined and dined by the deep pockets of Seahawks owner Paul Allen, the long memory of Cable and the deft recruiting of Pete Carroll on Monday, the Raiders were finalizing a long-term extension with linebacker Kamerion Wimbley that alleviated some of Oakland's salary cap issues. The Wimbley deal would have purportedly allowed the Raiders to present a respectable offer to Miller and his people.

"I definitely had to take my time," Miller said, "with a decision as tough as this.

"Mr. Davis signed a lot of defensive players."

Miller is coming of a breakthrough season in what seems to be a Golden Era for tight ends in the NFL. He played in his first Pro Bowl after catching 60 passes for 685 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in 15 games. This despite missing one game with a foot injury and being limited in others.

The Raiders were off Tuesday, but after practice Monday, Jackson was asked about Miller.

"Zach was a Raider last year, we want him to be a Raider now," Jackson said at the time. "That thing is going to come to a head here soon. It has to. I feel good about where we are and, hopefully, hell get back to us, well get back to him, and well try to get something resolved.

Done. Just not to the Raiders' satisfaction.

In four seasons, Miller caught 226 passes for 2,712 yards and 12 TDs and developed into the Raiders' most dependable short-yardage threat on third down. Perhaps more impressive, he was starting to be mentioned in the same breath of former Raider great tight ends Dave Casper and Todd Christensen.

Now, Miller is "ghost," ala Casper.

Raiders name former Chargers DC as assistant head coach-defense

Raiders name former Chargers DC as assistant head coach-defense

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio has hired former Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, the team announced on Monday evening. He will be the team’s assistant head coach on the defensive side of the ball.

Pagano has spent most of his coaching career in San Diego, working with the Chargers in various capacities since 2002. He was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator in 2012, where he led that unit for five seasons.

Pagano and Del Rio worked together in 1997, when Pagano was a New Orleans Saints defensive assistant and Del Rio was the assistant strength coach.

Pagano was a longtime linebackers coach before becoming a play caller. He has worked with several quality pass rushers and has proven to be adept at creating pressure.

The Raiders created a position for Pagano, who will help a defense that ranked 26th in yards allowed and dead last in sacks. Pagano was looking for a different gig after new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn hired Gus Bradley as his defensive coordinator. 

Ken Norton Jr. remains defensive coordinator, but Pagano will bring experience and creativity to the game-planning process.

He has worked within a 3-4 defensive scheme, but has experience in all formations. The Raiders run multiple defensive fronts.

Pagano is the assistant coach on defense, while offensive line coach Mike Tice has a similar title on the offensive side. The Raiders have a vacancy on the staff, and are looking for a new defensive backs coach.

John Pagano is the younger brother of Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano.

Separating fact from fiction as Raiders prepare for relocation vote

Separating fact from fiction as Raiders prepare for relocation vote

Last week was a sports business headline grabber in the Bay Area. On Tuesday the Golden State Warriors went all Cirque Du Soleil for a groundbreaking ceremony for Chase Center in Mission Bay. Then, the Oakland Raiders filed their relocation papers on Thursday, making a pair of gut punches for Oakland sports fans.

It’s time to separate the fact from fiction and examie what comes next...

FACT

- The Warriors will be playing in the Chase Center in San Francisco for the 2019-20 NBA season.

- The Raiders officially filed relocation papers on Thursday, Jan. 19 with the NFL for permission to relocate to Las Vegas.

- The Raiders have raised season ticket prices across the board for the 2017 season in Oakland.

- Nevada has $750 million dollars in public money approved for the construction of a $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed Raiders stadium in Las Vegas.

- If the relocation is approved, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders would become the largest taxpayer-subsidized stadium deal in NFL history, more than the $600 million in public money used to build the Atlanta Falcons’ $1.5 billion stadium and $500 million the public is picking up for U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the Vikings.

- Sand’s Casino Chairman Sheldon Adelson has pledged $650 million dollars of his own money to help build the Las Vegas stadium. Negotiations with Mark Davis on the details of his investment are ongoing. The Raiders have a deal with global investment bank Goldman Sachs to assist in financing the Las Vegas stadium deal.

- The Raiders plan to be playing in their new Las Vegas stadium by the 2020 NFL season. The Raiders have lease options to continue playing at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. 

- The cost of the Raiders' one-year lease extensions at the Oakland Coliseum is in the area of $3 million a year.

- Oakland and Alameda County still owe a large chunk of the $95 million dollars of debt for the Oakland Coliseum retrofit that brought the Raiders back from Los Angeles.

- NFL owners will next meet in Arizona from March 26 to 29. A vote on the Raiders relocation may take place at that time, or it may be postponed. Davis needs 24 "yes" votes to approve a relocation.

- Rams owner Stan Kroenke paid $550 million dollars to the NFL to relocate from St. Louis to Inglewood.

- The San Diego Chargers will be moving to the new shared stadium in Inglewood scheduled to open in 2019. In the interim they will play in the StubHub Center in Carson. It will be the smallest capacity stadium in the NFL at 27,000 seats.

- Relocation fees for the Raiders and Chargers have not been publicly released.

- The A's continue to review sites in the Oakland area for the building of a new ballpark.

- The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum is the only location in North America that has a MLB and NFL team playing in the same facility.
       
- Las Vegas will have its first NHL team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, skating next season in the new T-Mobile arena in Paradise. 

FICTION

- The Raiders' request for a relocation vote has been officially added to the NFL owners meetings scheduled in Arizona from March 26-29. 

- The exact location of the Las Vegas domed stadium has been selected.

- Mark Davis has $500 million dollars to put into the Las Vegas stadium deal. 

- Las Vegas is a stronger economic market than Oakland.

- The Raiders have a lease to play in Sam Boyd Stadium, home of UNLV football. 

- The Raiders have announced they will be selling seat licenses for their Las Vegas stadium.

- The Raiders are interested in exploring a remodel of the Coliseum as a football-only facility.

- The A’s are interested in exploring a remodel of the Coliseum as a baseball-only stadium.

- The A’s will move quickly on announcing new stadium plans based on the four-year minimization of MLB revenue sharing money, which begins this season.

- The A’s have selected Howard Terminal as the site of their new ballpark.

- Mark Davis has an interest in selling a major stake in the Raiders to Sheldon Adelson or any other interested billionaire to help him build a new stadium in the Bay Area or Las Vegas.

WHO KNOWS?

- What will happen with the Ronnie Lott/Fortress investment group that is negotiating with Oakland and Alameda County? 

They have no agreement of any kind with the Raiders to play in their proposed $1.25-billion, 55,000-seat stadium.

Three previous third-party investor-backed deals to finance and construct new sports venues in Oakland have failed. Floyd Kephart, Forest City and Colony Capital all struck out.

- What will the NFL charge the Raiders for relocation to Las Vegas and where will that money come from? 

The NFL is a proponent of two teams playing in one stadium in major metro areas, as we have seen work with the Jets and Giants at Met Life and with the Rams and Chargers in Inglewood.

The Raiders have adamantly opposed sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers.

- What legal or business actions will the Oakland authorities pursue against the Raiders and NFL if the team receives approval for a Las Vegas move? 

- Will the Warriors and Raiders pay back tens of millions owed the city and county for the improvements of the Coliseum and Oracle.

- How will the A's use the incredible leverage they will have if they wait until the Warriors and Raiders leave town?

Former A’s partner Lew Wolff said that the A’s won’t require a penny of public money to build a new stadium. Wolff is now out and A’s owner John Fisher could easily change that position.

PLACE YOUR BETS 
 
Oakland has been dealt a bad hand and it doesn’t look like it will get any help from the house. But I do not believe the Raiders will receive relocation approval at the NFL owners meeting in March.

Remember, the momentum was behind the Raiders and Chargers to get a "yes" vote on their proposed move to Carson in January of 2016. Owners instead voted 30-2 to approve the Rams' move to Inglewood. 

If the Raiders do get approval, the A’s and Major League Baseball could have a big surprise for Oakland. As the last team/league standing, they could ask for hundreds of millions in public money to support stadium construction. They could ask for control of all the land around the Coliseum at pennies on the dollar. They could threaten to move to another city with MLB approval.

This sports saga reads like War and Peace, but it's light on the peace and we're only getting started...