Raiders

Without lease, Raiders’ Las Vegas stadium opening could be delayed to 2021

Without lease, Raiders’ Las Vegas stadium opening could be delayed to 2021

LAS VEGAS — The Oakland Raiders and the public entity that oversees their proposed stadium in Las Vegas have a little over a week to agree on a conditional lease to avoid any delays on the team's relocation.

Raiders President Marc Badain on Thursday said the lease agreement is on the agenda of the NFL league owners' meetings scheduled to begin later this month. If one is not presented, there is a "distinct possibility" that team's move to Sin City could be pushed until the 2021 season, Badain said.

"In order to approve a lease, you need full membership, and the league has four meetings a year: one in March, one in May, one in October and one in December," Badain said after a public meeting of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board. "So, if you miss the May deadline, you push to October, we would lose a year, and everybody wants to get this project going everybody wants to get these guys to work. So we didn't want to miss that deadline."

Meetings this month are scheduled to begin May 22 in Chicago. The league owners approved the team's relocation during their gathering in March. The Raiders want to kick off the 2020 season at a proposed 65,000-seat domed stadium that would be built near the Las Vegas Strip, west of the Mandalay Bay casino-resort.

Stadium Authority board chairman Steve Hill said he believes the public entity and the Raiders can get done by the deadline a lease agreement with certain conditions, as it encompasses several other agreements that both sides must still work on.

"There's been no 'get this done or else' type of approach on this request (from the NFL), certainly done in a very appropriate manner. But I understand, particularly from the Raiders perspective and really from ours as well, the desire to move this forward," Hill said during the meeting. "They are investing obviously significantly in this community and they have started to do that, and I wouldn't want to move too far forward if I didn't know that I had a deal either."

The board on Thursday discussed progress on the 30-year lease, including a fund that would cover capital expenses that come up as the facility ages. A planning official from Clark County, where the stadium is to be located, also presented board members with an approximately 150-day timeline of a detailed review that the project must undergo before major construction can begin.

Guests of hotels and other lodging facilities in the Las Vegas area are contributing $750 million to the $1.9 billion project through an increase in the room tax. The Raiders and the NFL are expected to contribute $500 million. In addition, the team has said it has secured a $650 million loan from the Bank of America to cover the rest of the project's cost.

Raiders training camp battles: Several combinations possible at safety

Raiders training camp battles: Several combinations possible at safety

Editor’s note: We’ll take a look at several Raiders training camp battles leading up to the first full-squad practice on Saturday, and then we’ll update their progress throughout the preseason. Let’s get into the second one, focusing on safeties.

The Raiders have taken a safety in the first round of the NFL draft two of the last four years. They still paid a veteran top dollar to join the mix as a safety and slot corner. They extended a special teams player with some starts to his credit, too.

In short: the Raiders have options at safety, lots of them good.

That position will shake out in training camp, which starts this week in Napa.

This year’s No. 27 overall draft pick is already there. Johnathan Abram reported to camp Tuesday with the Raiders rookies, already in good position to snag a starting spot. Coaches love the Mississippi State alum, who joined the first unit later in the offseason program. He carries unshakable confidence and skill into his work as a do-everything safety that seems pro ready.

He paired with 2016 first-rounder Karl Joseph during the offseason program, who should still be a factor despite the team declining his fifth-year option. The team came away impressed by his recovery from injury and a slow start, when he found his footing in a role tailored to his strengths.

Erik Harris evolved into a defensive role last season, with the size and length to play free safety. He clearly has assumed a vocal leadership role in the back, and will fight for a job either on every down or obvious passing situations. He might end up being a super sub capable of playing anywhere, a valuable commodity in the secondary.

Lamarcus Joyner is the x-factor in all this. He’s clearly the team’s best free safety, but the high-priced free-agent signing has focused on slot cornerback to this point. That could change during training camp. Time will tell on that front. Coaches could split his focus -- he’s fully capable of switching between free safety and slot corner -- right away or bring him back to safety at times should one of the aforementioned contenders flop.

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Curtis Riley and Jordan Richards are also veterans in the mix, though they’re firmly on the roster bubble.

Early edge: Abram and Joseph at safety, with Joyner primarily at slot CB.

Raiders camp questions: Can Vontaze Burfict give stability at linebacker?

Raiders camp questions: Can Vontaze Burfict give stability at linebacker?

The Raiders have searched long and hard for stability at middle linebacker. They haven’t had much luck recently, no matter who has been picking players.

Let’s call it the curse of Rolando McClain, a wasted first-round pick that exemplifies the team’s issues filling an important position. Only Perry Riley and NaVorro Bowman offered partial-season respites during this middle linebacker drought, and neither player re-signed with the club.

Nick Roach, Curtis Lofton, Ben Heeney, Miles Burris and Derrick Johnson all have tried and failed to stabilize the position. Still-developing Marquel Lee, a rare linebacker drafted to play the middle, was thrust into a starting role but didn't stick and has been used on the strong side. The Raiders haven’t selected a middle linebacker before the fourth round since McClain, choosing largely to go the veteran route inside.

Vontaze Burfict enters as this year’s attempt to get the middle linebacker spot right. Brandon Marshall also is in town and capable of playing inside and out, as the Raiders hope to establish veteran leadership running Paul Guenther’s defense.

Burfict has spent most of his career as Guenther’s field general, and having him here should open previously closed chapters of an extensive playbook. Burfict was helpful running practice reps and meetings during the offseason program, already proving to be a valuable resource to his new team.

He must remain available and productive to stay that way. Burfict has struggled with injuries in recent seasons, which has hampered his effectiveness. Will he be a three-down player inside? Even two would be helpful, considering Tahir Whitehead’s lineup regularity and comfort with the defense.

Marshall also can fill the middle, proving a solid Plan B if Burfict struggles. Having veteran options playing in front of a developing corps including Jason Cabinda, Lee and Nicholas Morrow should be better than previous seasons, where the Raiders never seemed to have a backup plan.

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Burfict has been impactful already, but we haven’t seen much of Marshall. The former Bronco missed most offseason practices with an undisclosed injury.

These older veterans have been producers in the league but skepticism is fair until they show old form during the regular season. Can Burfict and/or Marshall succeed where previous players have struggled?

It’s worth keeping a keen eye on the middle linebacker spot and the position group as a whole, which must improve for the Raiders' defense to run well this regular season.