Mark Davis not celebrating Raiders' move to Vegas 'like I would like to be'

Mark Davis not celebrating Raiders' move to Vegas 'like I would like to be'

The Raiders were approved to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas last week by a 31-1 vote of NFL ownership, but the Silver and Black won’t be packing up quite yet.

They could play as many as three seasons in a market they’re leaving, creating a limbo period that isn’t fun for many. That includes Raiders owner Mark Davis, who has been stressed about this move despite securing a sweetheart deal to build a new venue just off the Las Vegas Strip.

"I’m not celebrating anything like I would like to be,” Davis said Tuesday in an extended interview with 95.7-The Game host JT the Brick. “We’re building a world-class venue in the entertainment capital of the world that will be great for Super Bowls and big events, but I still have a feeling for the fans in the Bay Area. I’ve met with a number of them, and anything I say isn’t going to soothe them. It makes this whole thing bittersweet.”

Davis detailed several starts and stops in stadium talks with Oakland and Alameda County, explaining to fans why he eventually turned full attention to Las Vegas. He said the Raiders nearly had a term sheet for a stadium completed with development company Colony Capital, and that a 10-year lease extension between the Athletics and Oakland Coliseum in summer 2014 derailed that Raiders stadium effort.

Davis referred to that A’s lease as an obstacle several times during the interview where he said he exhausted options to stay in the Bay Area despite a desire to do so. He also said the NFL pushed hard to keep the Raiders in place.

“The only people Oakland was in competition with was themselves,” Davis said. ”If they could’ve come up with a deal that could’ve given us the land or leased it at reasonable terms and gave us the infrastructure and ability to find a developer to bridge the funding gap, we may have been able to do something on that site. I believe it’s a phenomenal. Sundays at that stadium are the greatest. …Plans the city had would downgrade that game day experience.”

Davis said he offered a 20-percent stake in the Raiders at favorable rates to development companies and Athletics ownership. Offering a stake to the Athletics was new information, something originally expressed when Davis and team president Marc Badain had lunch with then-A's owner Lew Wolff and another top executive. 

The Raiders wanted both teams to vacate the Coliseum site and return when two sport-specific stadia were complete. The A’s didn’t pursue that plan, and it didn't go much further. The Raiders kept trying different alternatives, Davis outlined in the interview, but weren't able to secure a stadium deal in the East Bay.

“We’ve tried to get help to build (a stadium) either with the A’s or on our own, but we do not want to build in the corner of that parking lot,” Davis said. “We were never going to do that. We want to build something that’s going to be great, a world-class stadium that the Raiders, the NFL and, most of all, the fans are proud of. That wasn’t going to happen.”

That, and a messy lease negotiation in 2016 shifted Davis' focus outside the market, where he eventually secured financing on a $1.7 billion stadium in Las Vegas that includes $750 million in public funds and a loan from Bank of America. 

The Raiders hold one-year lease options to play at Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. Davis has said he hopes the Raiders will remain in the Bay Area in 2019 – his Las Vegas stadium won’t be ready until 2020 -- though the Oakland Coliseum authority has balked at that prospect. The Raiders could also play at Cal's Memorial Stadium or Levi's Stadium if they choose to remain in the Bay Area in 2019. Davis is adverse to renovating UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium for just one season, considering it won't permanently host any team beyond that season. 

Davis vowed to remain active in the Bay Area community before and after the Raiders leave, and hopes to shield his team and employees from fan ire over his decision to move.

“If there’s blame to be given, it should be aimed at me,” Davis said. “I’m the one who made the decision. My dream is for us to play out the next two, possibly three seasons in Oakland. I’d like to bring a championship to Oakland. I’m hoping that, in time, emotions will dry and that we’ll be able to do something of that nature.

“…I feel like I should say I understand that there is anger and disappointment, and that it should be pointed at me and not a Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Jack Del Rio. Those guys want to bring a championship to the Bay Area.”

New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'


New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'

Rashaan Melvin has the supreme confidence of a No. 1 cornerback, with none of the pedigree. Top cover men are often drafted high, paid well or both, with a steady ascent to elite status.

This undrafted talent bounced around the league without job security, trying and often failing to find NFL footing.

Melvin spent time with Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, New England and Miami again before establishing himself in Indianapolis. The Colts gave him a real shot and he took advantage, evolving into the team’s top cornerback. Last year was Melvin’s best, but it didn’t provide a long-term contract despite a bull market for cover men.

Melvin signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Raiders on Friday, the type of prove-it deal that could establish a big payday down this time next year. The 28-year old doesn’t consider that pressure. Melvin knowns another big year's on the way, one that proves he's an elite cornerback

"I’m here to dominate the league," Melvin said Friday in a conference call. "It might be time for some new faces at the cornerback position. That’s my take on that. I’m excited for it.”

Melvin wouldn’t trade his long road for a conventional path, and believes experience both good and bad has prepared him for a pivotal season.

“I’ve been cut four times,” Melvin said. “I’ve been in four different locker rooms, and I was able to gain my teammates’ trust, my coaches’ trust and the organization’s trust as well. My confidence just grows over time. There are not a lot of players that can say they’ve been cut four times and end up in a situation where I’m at today. Like I said, it’s perfect timing. My work ethic, my style of play and the way I approach the game and the way I approach my job, my business, it speaks for itself.”

Melvin’s work ethic is unquestioned. His reputation as a grinder is well documented, especially after establishing himself in Indianapolis. Commitment to a craft has created a player with consistent coverage and ball skills.

Melvin was excellent last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Melvin created an incomplete pass (combining passes defensed and interceptions) on 23.6 percent of his targets.

Passers had a 60.3 passer rating against him in 2017, with just 29 completions for 328 yards on 55 targets. The passer rating was 86.6 in 2016, his only other season as a regular starter.

The Raiders need that type of player on the outside. They’ve had inconsistent cornerback play (that’s being kind) in recent seasons, and are hoping Melvin provides stability at a key position. The Northern Illinois alum has loftier aspirations, individually and as the leader of a young position group.

“The goal is to be the best player I can be, first-team All-Pro,” Melvin said. “I’m going to show my leadership, help these young guys out this year. They have tons of potential to be successful in their own careers. For me coming in here and being the leader and showing that, hey, this is what it takes to be successful in this football league, that’s what I’m willing to do. That’s what I’m willing to bring to the table. On the football field, but outside as well.”

Paying $6.5 million for all that would be a bargain. Melvin’s the key acquisition in a secondary built around 2016 first-round safety Karl Joseph and 2017 first-round cornerback Gareon Conley. This secondary can be solid if those guys can realize potential and Melvin’s a true No. 1 cornerback.

He considers that title appropriate, and is ready to show he’s more that a one-year wonder. The Raiders have great confidence in Melvin, something clear after targeting him early in the free-agent process. Financing’s always a big factor, but Friday’s meeting with head coach Jon Gruden, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and secondary coach Derrick Ansley convinced Melvin that Oakland’s a proper fit.

“I can relate to these guys,” Melvin said. “They have big plans for me, big plans for the organization. I was born to be a part of something special; that’s happening in Oakland. It was a good thing. We were able to get everything done, a deal done. I’m just excited to be here and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as a team and me as a player.”

Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman


Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wanted veterans to help turn his defense around. He added a linebacker and defensive backs aplenty. Then, on Friday night, he gave the front some help.

Former 49ers defensive lineman Tank Carradine will sign with the Raiders, the 28-year old announced on his Instagram page. 

The Sacramento Bee first reported the news. 

He visited the Raiders on Thursday and was in Seattle earlier Friday, but will sign with the Silver and Black.

Carradine could help their transition to a more traditional 4-3 alignment, able to play end in the base defense. He has proven himself as a solid run defender, but believes he can be an effective pass rusher if given the opportunity.

Carradine didn’t get many pass-rushing chances with the 49ers, who generally removed him on passing downs. He has 5.5 sacks in four professional seasons. He played 37.9 percent of 49ers defensive snaps during eight games with the 49ers last season. He missed the same amount on short-term injured reserve with an ankle injury.

At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, he has the size to be a 4-3 base end. He’ll likely have to battle Mario Edwards Jr. for snaps opposite Khalil Mack, though Bruce Irvin will take that spot in sub packages.

Carradine will be the 10th free-agent signing expected to make the roster, which means the roster turnover this summer should be significant. 

Here was his Instagram post from Friday night: 

Proud to become an Oakland Raider! Let's go #raiders#nation

A post shared by Cornellius Smith (@tank.carradine) on