Goodell: NFL hasn't determined if Las Vegas is a viable market

Goodell: NFL hasn't determined if Las Vegas is a viable market

The Raiders no longer have the money required to build a new stadium in Las Vegas. Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson withdrew from the project he helped outline on Monday, and took his $650 million proposed investment with him.

Investment firm Goldman Sachs reportedly bowed out less than 24 hours later, stating their deal to finance a $1.9 billion stadium project just off the Las Vegas strip was contingent on Adelson’s involvement.

Even if all that was in order, a Las Vegas move still wouldn’t have been a sure thing. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league is still analyzing whether Las Vegas is a worthy location for a franchise.

“We haven’t made a determination about Las Vegas as an NFL market,” Goodell said in a press conference. “That’s part of the relocation process. The Raiders submitted an application, and that’s something we are considering carefully. There’s a great deal more work to be done, and there are several elements of that. Financing of the stadium is just one. Obviously, the stadium itself is another, as is the market. All of those are things we’ve studied over the past several months that will increase in intensity over the next month or so as we move forward in that process.”

A vote on the Raiders application to relocate was expected at the March 26-29 NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, though that seems less certain with the Raiders stadium financing currently uncertain.

It’s technically possible Adelson re-enters the fray to help get the stadium built, though it's certainly unlikely. Other Las Vegas heavyweights could invest in this prospect, but Goodell made it clear that, according to league rules, people with direct ties to gambling would not be allowed to own part of an NFL franchise or a stadium that houses one.

“We’ve always said we’re going to maintain the integrity of our game by maintaining separation between sports gambling and our game,” Goodell said. “That’s imperative for us, that the game our fans are seeing on the field doesn’t have undue influence. We recognize gambling occurs in the marketplace, but this is something for which we have rules in place.

“The Raiders have not asked us to compromise those rules as it relates to our policies. We will continue to have that separation moving forward. I don’t see an ownership position of a team from a casino. That is something inconsistent with our policies. …Not likely a stadium, either.”

Adelson helped the Raiders secure $750 million in public funds via a hotel tax. The Sands CEO offered $650 million and the Raiders promised $500 million, a sum that includes $200 million from an NFL loan. Goldman Sachs planned to finance the private portions of the stadium funding, though they've re-evaluated their proposed investment. There's now a funding gap that must be bridged, but the Raiders quest for Las Vegas is not over. The Raiders have team options on a one-year lease to play at Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, so there's no immediate, hard deadline to secure additional funds. 

Report: Raiders bring Reggie Nelson back


Report: Raiders bring Reggie Nelson back

Reggie Nelson has been on a reunion tour since signing with the Raiders. He first worked under Jack Del Rio, his head coach in Jacksonville and someone who choose to make him 2007’s No. 21 overall draft pick.

That link held for two years. Then Del Rio got run out in favor of Jon Gruden and Nelson hit the free-agent market. The 34-year old – he’ll be 35 in September – wasn’t expected back after a down year in 2017.

Another blast from the past created a road back to Oakland, where he reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Raiders. NFL Network reported news of Nelson’s pact.

Nelson thrived, with 23 interceptions and 62 passes defensed during six seasons in Cincinnati. New Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was linebackers coach and then Bengals DC (for two years) during Nelson’s time in the Queen City.

Nelson had five picks in 2016, his first year with Oakland, but seemed to slow down some last season. He had 60 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception in 2017.

Nelson will help teach a system familiar to him but foreign to most Raiders, but will certainly angle for steady snaps despite increased competition at his spot. 

He’ll compete for snaps at safety despite last week’s signing of Marcus Gilchrist, expected to take his spot, though it might be an uphilll climb. Gilchrist and Joseph should still be expected to start next season. The Raiders also have Obi Melifonwu at that position, though the second-year pro must earn a role in this defense. The other three have starter’s experience and will compete for that opportunity. Gilchrist also has experience covering the slot, which could help the secondary if a career cornerback isn't found to fill that role. 

Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order


Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Oakland Raiders player Aldon Smith surrendered to police Friday on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order.

San Francisco police said the 28-year-old Smith turned himself and was booked on three misdemeanor charges of violating a court order to stay away from a domestic violence victim.

Earlier this month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and other charges and a judge issued a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Police said Smith violated the restraining order earlier this week.

Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, did not return a voicemail message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Raiders released the linebacker days after his arrest on the domestic violence charges.

He had been on the suspended list since late 2015 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.