Defeated hotel tax further complicates matters for Chargers, Raiders

Defeated hotel tax further complicates matters for Chargers, Raiders

Editor's Note: The above video is from Oct. 17, 2016.

On a night of potentially epochal change in American political society and culture, it seems odd to rest one’s gaze on such a reductive issue as a hotel tax and its effect on the map of the National Football League, but there you go. It still beats being a pollster.

But in San Diego, the electorate came out aggressively and demonstrably against a hotel tax that would have funded a football stadium for the Chargers and their owner, Dean Spanos. On an issue that required 66.7 percent approval, the pro-stadium supporters couldn’t manage even 40, a repudiation so stinging that Spanos now must understand that his dream of a modern stadium is almost diametrically opposed to the wishes of his customers.

And why should you care about what happens to the Chargers? Because of the possibility that Spanos, rejected in San Diego and facing an objectionable future in Los Angeles at the knee of Rams owner Stan Kroenke, may cast his eyes and that of his team to the place that Mark Davis has already staked out – Las Vegas.

He hasn’t said so, to be sure, and even came out wishing Davis the best in his attempt to move the Raiders from Oakland to The Strip. But as we have learned over the last year, what NFL owners say and what they mean are very often two different things, and Las Vegas provides a solution to Spanos’ problem that his fellow owners might find more appealing than Davis.

Indeed, some people have whispered that Spanos would be keen on relocation to Las Vegas to get out from under the twin thumbs of Kroenke to the north and an electorate that doesn’t want to give him a billion dollars for his own use.

And the result of such a shift in his attention would leave Davis with two choices: Picking up the option to Los Angeles that Spanos likely would reject even though he is no more excited about being Kroenke’s pseudo-tenant than Spanos, or staying in Oakland with next to no chance for a new stadium in the foreseeable future.

This is a restatement of the basic equation of Las Vegas, complicated only by the hesitance of casino owner Sheldon Adelson to fulfill his promise to contribute $650 million to a new stadium, presumably in exchange for a piece of the team that moves in.

But there had been a level of hope among Chargers people that Tuesday’s vote would be much closer, at least close enough to make negotiations on a modified stadium plan possible. Now that seems gone, although some people think Spanos might go to the owners and ask for an extension on the Los Angeles option, and paying Davis for the privilege of doing so.

In other words, what happened in San Diego Tuesday did remarkably little to clear up the Raiders’ future, and may not have done much to clear up the Chargers’ future either. It was a clear protest vote against giving a billionaire a billion dollars, and there is something inspiring about that in any case, but understanding the future of Oakland’s football tam is no clearer – or for that matter, no more opaque – than it was on Monday night.

In short, as some might feel about the country in general today, we have gained no greater understanding of the Raiders’ future, except maybe that it has become more, not less complicated.

Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection


Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection

The Raiders entered this free agency period needing defensive help throughout the depth chart. They signed presumptive starters earlier in this veteran acquisition process, but didn’t stop there.

The Silver and Black have added depth this week especially, signing a key cog in linebacker Emmanuel Lamur on Wednesday afternoon.

Lamur spent the last two years in Minnesota and the previous four in Cincinnati with new Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Guenther was his position coach from 2012-13 and his DC from 2014-15. He also knows Raiders linebackers coach David Lippincott from the Bengals days

Lamur has primarily been a reserve, but Guenther gave him an opportunity to start in 2014. He had 59 tackles and two interceptions in 13 starts that year as a strongside linebacker.

The Raiders have options at that spot, but no firm starter at this stage if Bruce Irvin plays defensive end full time.

Lamur hasn’t played much defense the last two years, but is known as a quality special teams contributor. The Raiders have signed several of those players in an attempt to improve coverage and returns.

All told, the Raiders have signed 14 unrestricted free agents with a shot to make the 53-man roster since last week began. The roster will turnover significantly in Jon Gruden’s return to the Raiders, and it’s possible he signs more players in coming days.

The Raiders are still looking for upgrades at receiver, and might add another bargain defensive lineman.

Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders

Ndamukong Suh won’t meet with the Raiders, after all. The star defensive tackle cut Alameda out of his free-agent tour, according to NFL Network, choosing instead to head home after stops in New Orleans, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams.

NFLN reports that Suh had dinner with Rams coach Sean McVay on Tuesday night, and was due in Oakland the following day. The Rams made a solid impression

Suh is reportedly mulling options from all three aforementioned playoff teams, all of which have more working salary-cap space and other stalwarts along the defensive line.

That’s surely a disappointment for the Raiders, who have had interest in Suh dating back to his last free-agent experience in 2015. The Silver and Black couldn’t afford him then. It seems unlikely they can afford him now, with precious little salary-cap space remaining after being active in free agency’s second wave.

The Raiders also hope to lock Khalil Mack up long-term with a massive extension this offseason.

It’s uncertain at this stage whether player or team cancelled the meeting, or exactly why it was called off. The Raiders could still sign a veteran defensive tackle, and/or acquire one early in the NFL Draft.