Raiders

The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas

The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas

The Raiders no longer belong to Oakland.

The Silver and Black were given the approval to relocate to Las Vegas on Monday in a vote of NFL ownership at the league meetings in Phoenix.

This wasn’t a surprise. Not one bit.

Approval was expected, and the only owner who voted against the move was Miami's Stephen Ross. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news.

The Raiders worked a sweetheart deal with Las Vegas on a reported $1.7 billion stadium project that includes $750 million in public funds and financing by Bank of America. The public will also pick up the tab on infrastructure improvements.

That option contrasts an Oakland plan slammed by the NFL, which wasn’t considered viable despite Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf's repeated statements to the contrary. The Raiders haven’t participated in East Bay stadium efforts, focusing solely on their Las Vegas project over the past year.

Despite that fact, Raiders owner Mark Davis felt conflicted over Monday's events. Leaving the East Bay was not originally his intended goal. 

"I have mixed feelings, obviously," Davis said. "I love Oakland, I love the fans in Oakland, and I know that there’s going to be disappointment and maybe some anger. I just hope that in the future, as we play in Oakland this year, that they understand that it wasn’t the players, it wasn’t the coaches that made this decision, but it was me that made it, and if they have anybody to talk to about it, it should be me. I will, in the coming days, try to explain to them what went into making this difficult decision."

The Raiders decided to pursue relocation, and built an attractive plan that doesn’t include NFL-adverse attachments to gambling interests. It did with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was an investor, but they got clear of that when Adelson backed out in February. They lost him and investment firm Goldman Sachs at that time but recovered quickly when BofA hopped on board. Davis acknowledged the project wouldn't have succeeded without Adelson's sway and ability to secure public funds. 

NFL owners discussed the Raiders application to relocate on Monday morning, and it quickly moved toward a vote. A league source said the Raiders met little resistance in the meeting room. The last leg of this year long quest went smooth, with the team having answered most questions about getting a new stadium in a decidedly smaller market. The stadium and finance committees reccomended approval, and the league did so shortly after

The Raiders are the third NFL team to relocate in the last 14 months, which is a bad look for the league.

"We work very hard, and never want to see a relocation of a franchise," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "That means exhausting our options and doing everything we can to keep a team in its existing market. There is a stadium situation in Oakland that needed to be addressed, and I think our friends in Oakland agreed with that. It’s been an issue for well over a decade."

The Las Vegas move is contingent on a few unresolved items, but there isn’t anything expected to halt this action. A lease between the Raiders and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority isn't complete, though a source said most points have been worked out. The pact should get done in April. 

The Raiders haven't formally announced a stadium site, though a source said the team has an option to buy land just off the Las Vegas Strip, near the Interstate 15 freeway and Russell Rd. to build the stadium. 

While the Raiders were approved to relocate, moving vans won’t line up quite yet. Their new Las Vegas stadium won’t be complete until 2020, and the Raiders plan to play in Oakland the next two seasons. The Raiders have a team option to play at Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. They’d be in limbo for 2019, though Davis said Monday he hoped to play in the Bay Area that season. They also have options to play in Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium should the Bay Area turn hostile, though it isn’t NFL ready without renovations and won't be used again after the new stadium is built. The new stadium will host the Raiders and the UNLV football team. 

The Raiders will leave when ready, abandoning Oakland for the second time in 35 seasons. Late owner Al Davis left for Los Angeles in 1982, and returned in 1995 after Oakland offered to expanded Oakland Coliseum. The city is still paying back debt on that renovation. Mayor Schaaf said no public funds would be used for stadium construction, though owner Mark Davis’ major sticking points came over use and control of land on the Coliseum site, what he viewed as poor negotiating tactics and conflicts with the Athletics. The A’s also play at Oakland Coliseum on a lease that runs through 2024, though it has an escape clause had the Raiders locked down a football-only stadium there. Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney said Monday that the Athletics' presence on the Coliseum site was a complicating factor in getting a deal done. 

Schaaf issued a statement decrying the Raiders leaving town. She hoped for a different outcome, and was never able to formulate a plan NFL ownership would accept. 

“I am disappointed that the Raiders and the NFL chose Las Vegas over Oakland when we had a fully-financed, shovel-ready stadium project that would have kept the Raiders in Oakland where they were born and raised.

“I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises. As a lifelong Oaklander, my heart aches today for the Raider Nation. These are the most committed and passionate fans any city or team could hope to have. They deserved better.”

Raiders give Conley green light, Melifonwu 'doesn't look close at all'

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USATSI

Raiders give Conley green light, Melifonwu 'doesn't look close at all'

The Raiders have been cautious with Gareon Conley’s return from shin surgery. The cornerback’s clearance turned from red to yellow earlier in the offseason program, but finally went green in time to start the OTAs.

Last year’s first-round pick was reportedly a first-team cover man during the Raiders first OTA session on Tuesday. It was one of three open to the media.

The Raiders plan for him to be there throughout the regular season, and believe he has the makings of a No. 1 cornerback.

Head coach Jon Gruden has been excited to see the Ohio State product in action, as part of cornerback corps also featuring Rashaan Melvin and Daryl Worley.

“Yeah, it’s great to see Conley out there,” Gruden said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “We’re counting on him. We need him. But to see Rashaan Melvin and Conley and [Daryl] Worley competing is really exciting.

Conley was impressive during his first offseason program, until he hurt his shin during the team’s June 2017 minicamp. Conley barely played after that, with two games action and a handful of limited practices. He had surgery to repair his shin in Nov. 2017, and was eased back into action somewhat.

Conley doesn’t have an injury history save last year’s mishap, and could have a real impact if he remains healthy and continues to progress.

“Conley is special,” Gruden said. “He’s a top pick in this draft for a reason. I think from a confidence standpoint, he needs to get some work in out here.”

The player Oakland selected after Conley last year still hasn’t been cleared to work. Safety Obi Melifonwu wasn’t able to participate in Tuesday’s team drills, the first time this offseason offense and defense can play against each other.

The UConn product missed last season’s first half recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, and then needed hip surgery after the season. He still isn’t ready for a return.

“It doesn’t look close at all,” Gruden said. “I’ll leave it at that. He doesn’t look close, to me, at all.”

Physical issues are problematic for a player looking to earn a role on the team. The team is stocked at safety, with Karl Joseph, Reggie Nelson and Marcus Gilchrist leading the way.

“He doesn’t look ready to roll yet,” Gruden said. “So, I don’t let anybody practice without being able to go physically. He doesn’t look like he’s 100 percent. I haven’t seen much of Obi except in the training room.”

NOTES

-- Khalil Mack was not present for the start of voluntary OTAs, as expected. The elite edge rusher has missed the entire offseason program to this point, withholding services while waiting for a big-money contract extension the the Raiders have budgeted to give him. 

-- Gruden said receiver Amari Cooper is dealing with a hamstring injury.

-- Left tackle Donald Penn is working his way back from foot surgery, and participated in individual drills on Tuesday. He was held back during team sessions, leaving David Sharpe to take first-team reps at left tackle. Breno Giacomini manned the first-team right tackle spot.

-- Rookies Kolton Miller (left tackle) and Brandon Parker (right tackle) worked with reserve units at this stage. Gruden was impressed with how both players absorbed the offense.

-- Fourth-round cornerback Nick Nelson remains out recovering from meniscus surgery. As previously reported, he’s expected back for training camp.

-- The Raiders are planning to have training camp practices against another team, but Gruden didn’t want to reveal the opponent until arrangements are finalized.

Raiders acquire 2016 second-round QB from Jets

Raiders acquire 2016 second-round QB from Jets

The Raiders added a fourth quarterback to the roster, trading a conditional 2019 seventh-round pick to the New York Jets for Christian Hackenberg.

Jets head coach Todd Bowles announced the transaction during a Tuesday meeting with local media.

Hackenberg joins a quarterback room that already contains starter Derek Carr and reserves EJ Manuel and Connor Cook.

Hackenberg was a second-round draft choice in 2016, but never played a regular-season NFL snap. He dressed for just five games.

He’ll be competing for a roster spot in Oakland, as the Raiders will keep a maximum of three quarterbacks.

The Jets were clearly looking for new signal callers this offseason and got them, signing Teddy Bridgewater in free agency before drafting USC’s Sam Darnold third overall in the NFL draft.

Hackenberg took a thinly veiled shot at the Jets Tuesday morning, questioning why a throwing motion overhauled by private coaches wasn't done earlier by the Jets. He was traded later that day

Hackenberg was taken two rounds before Cook in the 2016 draft – the Raiders traded up to get Cook in the fourth -- and both guys have failed to find footing on an NFL roster. Cook has been the No. 3 quarterback in two professional seasons, save an emergency playoff start in the 2016 season.

Manuel is older, though fared well in limited action last year.

Hackenberg has plenty of arm strength but has struggled with accuracy, and couldn’t secure the Jets’ starting spot that was most always up for grabs.

"I'm 23 and I got a lot of ball ahead of me," Hackenberg said Tuesday per the New York Daily News. "Hell, my career hasn't even started yet. So I'm excited about what the future holds."

News of the trade broke after Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s Tuesday media session, meaning he was not immediately available to comment on the transaction.