AT&T Park in play as Raiders' 2019 home, and here's why it makes sense


AT&T Park in play as Raiders' 2019 home, and here's why it makes sense

AT&T Park has come up as a potential host for Raiders football next season, and the Giants confirmed Friday that they're talking to the NFL team about the possibility.

“There has been initial interest expressed in exploring the opportunity of the Raiders playing at AT&T Park," the Giants said in a statement to NBC Sports Bay Area. "Many details would need to be figured out. The Giants want to do what’s best for Bay Area fans and would be open to the concept just as we hosted Cal Football in 2011 when Memorial Stadium in Berkeley was being renovated.”

The San Francisco ballpark became an option for the Silver and Black because the Coliseum has become unattractive after Oakland sued the franchise and the NFL for what it alleges are antitrust and breach of contract violations.

Raiders owner Mark Davis hasn’t eliminated the prospect of returning to Oakland, but he has made it clear that the team is exploring all options for a home field next year. The Raiders are scheduled to relocate to Las Vegas after that and play in a brand-new stadium starting in 2020.

Playing in the Bay Area isn’t a requisite, but it’s safe to say it’s preferred. Raiders coach Jon Gruden is a noted homebody, but he isn’t the only one who'd prefer to play home games in the market where they practice.

Raj Mathai, lead anchor for NBC Sports Bay Area sister station NBC Bay Area, reported earlier Friday that the Raiders and the Giants were talking, and that playing NFL football at the picturesque ballpark is a “distinct possibility.”

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport brought up the point that AT&T Park resides within 49ers territory, meaning the Raiders would have to receive approval to move there. That’s true. According to NFL bylaws specifically drawn out for the 49ers and the Raiders, one team can’t play in the other’s city without prior consent from the other.

While the 49ers play in Santa Clara, the Raiders can’t move into San Francisco even for a season without that rubber stamp.

It’s uncertain whether 49ers approval would be easy or hard to come by. It might be OK for one season, and possibly preferable to both teams over sharing Levi’s Stadium for a year. Again, that’s an unknown at this stage.

There are several hurdles to clear in a relatively short time, considering NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would prefer the Raiders select a home venue by January or early February so the league can make the 2019 season schedule.

While playing in a distinct baseball venue seems odd on the surface, it isn’t farfetched. AT&T Park regularly has hosted college football bowl games, and as the Giants mentioned in their statement, it was Cal’s home site in 2011 while Memorial Stadium was being renovated.

A major concern is an NFL team’s impact on the baseball playing surface. After looking at the Giants’ 2019 schedule, there’s a way to minimize that issue.

Here’s one idea for how it could get done: The Raiders often play three of their first four games away from the Coliseum because Davis hates playing on the two-sport facility’s infield dirt. The team did so in three of the past five seasons, and it certainly could do so again in 2019.

The Giants play a weekend road series in Atlanta during the NFL’s Week 3, with an off-date that Monday. The Raiders could play a home game at AT&T then, leaving just six remaining regular season games where the field would be impacted for baseball. The off day also would provide time to reconfigure the field lines and pitching mound back to Giants standards.

[RELATED: With or without the Raiders, Oakland remains resilient]

There are preseason games to consider in August, but the Raiders easily could ship those games outside the Bay Area to other hotbed markets, including Reno or Las Vegas.

There are enough seats to sell, with all the public transit, concessions and infrastructure -- and there's a brand-new, state-of-the-art scoreboard going in -- to easily accomodate an NFL team. It might not be cheap, but the Raiders should be willing to shell out some cash to secure a temporary home site and relieve this headache.

Again, the Raiders haven’t eliminated the Coliseum as a possibility in 2019. Davis doesn’t like Levi’s Stadium, and AT&T Park would keep the Raiders close to their Alameda training facility. Playing in a baseball venue would have its quirks, but there’s no perfect option with the lawsuit creating friction between the team and the city that helps run the Coliseum.

If the Raiders ultimately decide to play elsewhere in 2019, AT&T might be the best possible alternative for Davis, Gruden and a team that's inching ever closer to leaving the Bay Area for good.

How Raiders' 2019 draft class is laying bedrock for sustained success

How Raiders' 2019 draft class is laying bedrock for sustained success

The Raiders assembled quite a collection of talent during last year’s NFL draft. Everyone knows that by now.

First-round safety Johnathan Abram, however, doesn’t want you to forget about those who came directly after.

“Don’t forget Alec Ingold. He’s the man,” Abram said on the Raiders Talk Podcast. “And don’t sleep on A.J. Cole, either. That guy can punt. He’s the real deal.”

Abram’s right. The Raiders even got significant contributions from undrafted players in 2019. Ingold’s the long-term solution at fullback, and Cole’s a specialist off to a good start.

The 2019 rookie class was highlighted by rookie of the year candidates in feature running back Josh Jacobs and 10-sack sensation/defensive end Maxx Crosby. Both guys were runners-up for the offensive and defensive awards, making the Raiders one of two teams in the last 15 years with top-two finishes in both, per the Associated Press' Josh Dubow.

This group showed great depth. Cornerback Trayvon Mullen excelled after assuming a starter’s role following the Gareon Conley trade. Hunter Renfrow proved a quality slot receiver all season but found great form and chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr at its end.

Tight end Foster Moreau was a significant contributor as a run blocker and red-zone receiving target.

The Raiders' rookie class was awesome, despite No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell not quite living up to his draft slot in where he moved around the defensive line and got really sick before midseason. Abram was a non-factor in 2019 after missing 15 games with a shoulder injury.

Members of this Raiders rookie class believe they’re the bedrock of the Raiders rebuild, and 2019 ended with the arrow pointing up. They understand that fact, even if it goes unspoken.

“We talk about it here and there, but it’s more of something we just know,” Crosby said. “We know what we’re here for and how good we can be. Me and John and Josh and Cle and everybody else, we’re all close. For us, we know what Gruden brought us here to do. We’re grinding away and preparing to get in the playoffs and go win some games and eventually win a Super Bowl.”

[RELATED: Raiders safety Abram learned 'valuable lessons' after injury]

The Raiders draft class is recognized among last year’s best, if not right at the top. The group was first in sacks and total yards from scrimmage. They were first in receptions and rushing yards.

It has growth potential, with high ceilings and improvement all around. Ferrell vowed to return a completely different player. Abram will be back and healthy in 2020.

And while offseason rankings don’t mean much, Moreau took umbrage with an NFL Media list placing the Raiders rookie class at No. 7 in the league.

That could fuel fire down the line as the Raiders try to build a roster capable of sustained success. The group had high hopes, with expectations even higher with a season’s experience in hand. It doesn’t just fall on the higher picks. The entire group sees good days ahead.

“That was the best part of it,” Abram said. “No matter what round we came in, we put all that behind us the day we showed up at the facility. We were all hand-selected and brought here for a purpose. We just have to get the job done.”

Are Raiders willing to offer Tom Brady two-year, $60M contract?

Are Raiders willing to offer Tom Brady two-year, $60M contract?

It's February and those Tom Brady-Raiders rumors aren't going anywhere.

The 42-year-old quarterback, who will be 43 when the 2020 season starts, will become a free agent when the new league year starts in March. While conventional wisdom dictates that Brady will return to the New England Patriots, along with a souped-up supporting cast, the Raiders reportedly are set to pursue the six-time Super Bowl champion should he make it to free agency.

It likely will take a hefty sum to lure Brady away from Foxboro, Mass., and longtime sportswriter Larry Fitzgerald Sr., -- who also is the father of Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. -- dropped this nugget on Twitter on Friday.

It's worth noting, obviously, that Fitzgerald didn't say who told him that or give any reason to believe this is a legitimate rumor.

But, that number -- $30 million -- likely is around what it will take in reality for Jon Gruden to have a chance at luring Brady to Las Vegas, which he absolutely should try to do if TB12 will hear him out. The Raiders are slated to have around $55 million in salary cap room entering the offseason. While they'd prefer to get Brady a touch cheaper price tag in order to spend on a defense that needs severe upgrades, the Raiders, in theory, can afford to hand over the king's ransom to Brady if that's what it takes. 

Of course, two years and $60 million is a lot to give a quarterback who could lose his fastball and battle with Father Time at any moment. 

[RELATED: AB won't close door on Raiders return]

The smart money is on Brady returning to New England, Derek Carr being the starter in Las Vegas and Gruden using his cap money to improve his defense. But if Brady is thinking about leaving the Patriots, the Raiders know they'll have to put their money where their playoff hopes are.