AFC Notes: Raiders, Fins, Hightower, Broncos

A thorough ESPN.com piece regarding the Raiders‘ move to Las Vegas revealed that Mark Davis was considering a move to Sin City as far back as 2014. While Davis’ intentions with Vegas didn’t become public until 2016, a dinner with NFL executive VP — and stadium-financing point man — Eric Grubman he wanted to take the Raiders to the desert. But Grubman was far more skeptical at the time. “Mark, you’ll never get approved to Las Vegas,” Grubman said, via Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham of ESPN.They’ll oppose it on principle. It’s not gonna happen.” Davis described it as a “good market” at the time and eventually won out, largely because of Oakland’s inability to craft a stadium plan the NFL viewed as viable.

Here’s more on the Raiders and the latest coming out of the AFC.

  • Sheldon Adelson did attempt to force Davis into giving him a stake in the Raiders. Davis refused, and part of Adelson’s removal from the project stemmed from the NFL owners having doubts about the casino mogul’s involvement. Van Natta and Wickersham allude to Adelson being irate at the Raiders for their tactics during this relocation push. This could be something to monitor down the line, with Davis and Adelson set to operate as high-powered figures in the same city relatively soon.
  • Dolphins owner Stephen Ross viewed the team’s exit of a top market as questionable. Miami’s top decision-maker wondered if the Raiders should be stripped from the NFL’s revenue-sharing program for a decade because of the team downsizing considerably in market size — going from No. 6 to No. 40 — and accepting $200MM via NFL loan, the ESPN reporters note. Ross was the lone dissenter among NFL owners regarding the Raiders’ move to Nevada.
  • Dont’a Hightower has bonuses of $54K per game during each contest within the four-year deal he signed to stay with the Patriots, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. Hightower also has $2MM per year in incentives that are largely tied to playing time. The middle linebacker would receive $375K if he played in 65 percent of the Pats’ snaps, plus separate $250K incentives for 70 and 75 percent snap counts. Another $125K would come Hightower’s way if he took part in 80 percent of New England’s defensive plays. This seems to tie into the kind of health-based concerns the Jets and Steelers had when considering (and offering) Hightower. He played in just more than 67 percent of New England’s defensive snaps last season.
  • A scenario involving a Jets trade of their 2017 first-round pick for a 2018 first-rounder — in an attempt to corner the quarterback market via two first-round picks next year — doesn’t make as much sense, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Despite the belief better quarterbacks will be in that draft, the job security for Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles is not strong enough to make this kind of transaction. New York has been linked to Mitch Trubisky at No. 6 but obviously selected Christian Hackenberg last year before signing Josh McCown. Another rookie might stall an effort for Bowles to convince ownership the Jets are headed in the right direction.
  • The Broncos took the third-fewest snaps out of the shotgun (411) in the league last season, but that figure is expected to rise. Mike McCoy is expected to incorporate more gun looks, likely with an eye on aiding Paxton Lynch‘s development, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post notes. Lynch told Jhabvala he’s “excited” about more shotgun sets being implemented because of his work in that formation at Memphis. McCoy famously made radical changes to Denver’s offense during his first stint as OC, tailoring an offense to Tim Tebow‘s unique abilities midway through the 2011 season before pivoting back to a pass-first attack once Peyton Manning arrived in 2012. Lynch, though, may have work to do to unseat Trevor Siemian, who fared much better in Gary Kubiak‘s offense.
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