NFL executive: 'Carbon copy' flaws with proposal for new Raiders stadium

NFL executive: 'Carbon copy' flaws with proposal for new Raiders stadium

A term sheet outlining a stadium proposal designed to keep the Raiders in Oakland is getting pushed through the system on Tuesday.

It was approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday afternoon, and the Oakland City Councial is expected to vote on it later Tuesday evening.

City and county approval would provide a 60-day exclusive negotiating window to shore up several holes in a deal that includes public subsidy for infrastructure, money from the NFL and the Raiders and a significant investment from a group led by Ronnie Lott and Fortress Investment Group.

While the proposal has created optimism in the Bay Area, the Raiders haven’t been a part of this plan. All of their focus has been centered on relocating to Las Vegas, where $750 million in public funds and significant private investment has been allocated for a $1.9 billion stadium project.

The NFL has issues with the current Oakland plan.

“I think the intentions are good,” NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman, the league frontman on relocation issues, told USA Today Sports on Tuesday at the league meetings. “But I don’t think there’s been any progress that suggests a breakthrough anytime soon.”

Grubman also told USA Today that a meeting between the NFL, Raiders officials and supporters of the Oakland plan met Monday to discuss the term sheet released last week.

The NFL prefers cities deal directly with NFL teams over third-party investors.

“I think it’s a mistake to add third parties and fourth parties to what really should be a two-party negotiation,” Grubman said. “In this instance, you put someone who needs to profit and you may put other motivations in there. The core task is to find something that works for the Raiders and the community, and when you put developers in or other third parties, then you’re going to have there the things that are important to them in the conversation. And that’s what happened two years ago and one year ago and I think that’s what happening now.”

The league believes there are similarities with the Lott group’s plan and failed stadium concepts of the past, including a maligned plan constructed by investor Floyd Kephart.

“And I dare say if you pull up the descriptions of what the agreement was with Mr. Kephart when they entered into it and then the problems that ensued, it is a carbon copy of what they’re about to enter into today and the problems that are likely to ensue,” Grubman said.

The Raiders are expected to apply for relocation in January. They need 24 NFL owners to approve their bid to move. If the Raiders have the votes, approval could come early next year.

Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders


Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had a hand in drafting Josh Johnson a decade ago. The agile quarterback and Oakland native was a Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick in 2008, Gruden’s last year as Buccaneers coach.

The pair will reunite in Johnson’s hometown. The well-traveled quarterback signed with the Raiders on Monday, the team announced.

Johnson will compete with Connor Cook to backup starter Derek Carr, and brings a veteran’s influence to the position group. It likely spells the end of EJ Manuel’s short tenure in silver and black. The strong-armed former first-round pick, who started one game last season, remains a free agent after a year with the Raiders.

This move should make Marshawn Lynch happy. He and Johnson are extremely close and together run the Family First Foundation, a charitable organization that does significant work for East Bay kids. Johnson and Lynch also played football together at Oakland Tech High.

Johnson has played 10 NFL teams prior to this Raiders stop, but hasn’t played in a regular-season game for some time.

Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'


Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden needed specific tools to run his running game. He wanted blocking tight ends and a bruising fullback, relics of a bygone offensive era.

“If Marshawn Lynch is the feature back, I think it’d be nice if we serviced him with a fullback,” Gruden said at the combine. … You need a blocking tight end if you’re going to slam the ball with a beast. So, those are two things that I’m looking for.”

Gruden said he wanted to import some old-school elements to help run with brute force.

Enter free-agent fullback Kyle Smith and tight end Derek Carrier. Welcome back, Lee Smith.

Then, on Sunday, Raiders made another vital move in this old school effort. They cut Marshawn Lynch a $1 million check.

The Oakland native’s roster bonus came due and the Raiders had no problem paying it, the clearest sign Lynch will be the Raiders feature back in 2018.

He’ll have a great chance to thrive in that role. The Raiders have a hulking, expensive offensive line (that still needs a right tackle). They have new ancillary blocking elements, and the centerpiece remains in place.

That last part was expected in recent weeks. The coaching staff, offensive line coach Tom Cable especially, wanted Lynch back. NFL Network confirmed those facts, stating Lynch will be around in 2018.

That was the case, even with Doug Martin’s addition. The former Tampa Bay back is expected to be a backup bruiser, someone who might put DeAndre Washington or (less likely) Jalen Richard’s job in jeopardy.

The Raiders can cut Lynch without a cap hit. Lynch is scheduled to make $6 million in salary and bonuses, with another $2 million available in incentives. The Raiders should hope to pay those; it would mean Lynch is running well.

The Raiders have given him a great opportunity to do so. They have solid blocking and a coach in Cable who helped him succeed during dominant days in Seattle.

Lynch proved he’s still got it in 2017’s second half, with 70 percent of his 891 rushing yards in the final eight games. He struggled early on, and upset some fans by helping the opposition during a scuffle with Kansas City. That mitigated a PR bump the Raiders looked for when signing a popular Oakland native just months after committing to Las Vegas long-term.

Jack Del Rio and staff grew tired of what they perceived as leeway given to Lynch unavailable to others, and probably wouldn’t have kept him on if still gainfully employed.

Gruden seems committed to Lynch this season, though nothing is ever 100 percent with an enigmatic rusher who doesn’t make private thoughts public.

His elusive, rough-and-tumble rushing style fits well with what Gruden wants, though he demands commitment to the team and sport. Sports Illustrated relayed a story of Gruden saying he needed a “full-time Lynch.”

If he gets that, the Raiders run game should thrive.