Raiders seek to avoid layoffs with ticket sales plan

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Raiders seek to avoid layoffs with ticket sales plan

May 18, 2011RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEO

ALAMEDA (AP) With no minicamps, offseason workouts or other football activities during the NFL lockout, every member of the Oakland Raiders organization is now part of the ticket staff.

Instead of forcing employees to take pay cuts or unpaid furloughs during the lockout as several teams are doing, the Raiders have implemented a plan that allows people to keep their full salary if they sell a certain number of season tickets.

"Different teams are taking different approaches," Raiders chief executive officer Amy Trask said Wednesday. "Certainly some teams are taking one approach: How do we decrease expenses during a work stoppage. We looked at this from the opposite approach. Let's all work together as an organization, every single department, to increase our ticket revenues."

To avoid a pay cut, employees must sell season tickets worth 10 percent of their salary during the lockout. For example, an employee making 60,000 a year would have to sell 500 worth of season tickets for each month of the lockout, which began March 12.

The cheapest season tickets for the Raiders cost 260 per year, with the most expensive non-club seats going for 960 annually.

The Raiders were last in the league in attendance last year, averaging about 46,430 fans per home game and selling out the approximately 63,000-seat stadium just once. Oakland had an extremely low season-ticket base as evidenced by the crowd of 32,218 for a game against Houston on Oct. 3, the smallest in Oakland since 1967.

The Raiders have had just two sellouts the past two seasons. They have had 83 of 128 regular-season games blacked out locally on television because games did not sell out since returning to Oakland in 1995.

"This is a program that's constructive and productive," Trask said. "We're working as a staff to build something together, so when we come out on the other side of this work stoppage we're going to be bigger and better and stronger for it because we have sold more season tickets."

Trask said the plan, which was first reported by USA Today, has been received well by the vast majority of the staff since being implemented in March. It applies to essentially all employees, including coaches, secretaries, executives and equipment staff.

"It's a privilege to work for the Raiders and to work for a National Football League team," Trask said. "Frankly work stoppage or no work stoppage, going out in the community and representing this organization and working to fill the stadium is something all of us should be doing anyway."

The tickets must be paid for one week before the first regular-season game to qualify, so employees don't need to get fans to pay up until they know whether games will be played.

Trask said she has personally sold enough season tickets to hit her target after the first two months of the lockout and has other sales in the works.

While Raiders employees work on selling tickets, the players have made their own plans for offseason workouts. Defensive lineman Richard Seymour and quarterback Jason Campbell have arranged a four-day "Team Passing Camp" next week in Duluth, Ga.

The camp will feature on-field drills, weightlifting, swimming and nutritional counseling. Seymour, who is funding the camp, sent out an email inviting his teammates to attend.

"Men, I hope everyone is well and staying in shape because we are going to outwork everyone we face this season, and it starts right now in the offseason," he wrote.

Seymour signed a 30 million, two-year contract with the Raiders in February, before the start of the league's lockout.

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.