City Of Las Vegas

Raiders Considering Moving Training Camp

Although the Raiders are set to debut in Las Vegas this season, they were scheduled to hold a final training camp at their Napa, Calif., camp home of the past 24 years. The COVID-19 pandemic may change those plans.

The team is seriously considering holding camp at its new Henderson, Nev., headquarters, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Both the 49ers and Cowboys have discussed relocating their training camps out of California. The Chargers and Rams are set to hold camps in their home state, but uncertainty remains on this front.

While New Jersey and New York have given the go-ahead for training camps to occur, California has yet to do so. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has given the Raiders the green light to hold camp in the state.

Despite several workers having tested positive for COVID-19, the Raiders’ stadium remains on track for completion by late July. A training camp in Nevada would simplify the franchise’s process of having its entire player roster, coaching staff and other essential personnel travel back to northern California at a time when travel presents near-unprecedented uncertainty. Raiders officials, per Bonsignore, have discussed the benefits of now staying in Nevada for camp. This may well be the direction the team is leaning.

AFC West Notes: Bolts, Wilkinson, Raiders

The COVID-19 pandemic will make rookies’ transitions more difficult, and quarterbacks will face a tough learning curve. As a result, Tyrod Taylor is expected to open the season as the Chargers‘ starting quarterback, Daniel Popper of The Athletic writes (subscription required). That arrangement may continue for a while. No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert will likely sit at least eight games, Popper predicts, noting that the Bolts are preaching patience with their first Round 1 quarterback pick in 16 years. Anthony Lynn said in early April that Taylor was the Bolts’ starter “for now.” Taylor is undoubtedly a bridge quarterback again, but this bridge may be longer than the one the Browns used to get to Baker Mayfield two years ago.

Let’s look at the latest from the Chiefs’ three challengers in the AFC West:

  • Defensive lineman Damion Square and the Chargers have expressed mutual interest about another contract, Popper notes. The Bolts originally picked up Square in 2014 and re-signed him in 2017 and ’19. The former UDFA would provide a veteran presence on a defensive line housing Pro Bowlers Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Linval Joseph up front but little experience behind them. Square, now 31, has seen time at defensive tackle and D-end with the Bolts. He started 11 games for the 2018 Chargers, registering three sacks that season.
  • The Broncos did not add a left tackle in the draft or free agency, planning instead to hold a Garett Bolles-vs.-Elijah Wilkinson competition for the job. The latter will be coming off surgery. Wilkinson underwent an ankle procedure in May, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes. Wilkinson, who filled in for Ja’Wuan James as Denver’s starting right tackle for almost all of last season, suffered a high ankle sprain in December. The ailment did not heal properly, postponing the fourth-year player’s recovery. Wilkinson, who signed his second-round RFA tender in April, still hopes to be ready for training camp.
  • Despite the coronavirus altering the construction of the Raiders‘ Allegiant Stadium, the team is eyeing July 31 as a completion date for the Las Vegas-based domed stadium’s “substantial construction,” Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes. At least 16 workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and Akers adds the near-$2 billion project moved from two shifts to three to allow for social distancing.

Rams-Chargers Stadium May Not Be Ready For Season

The Rams and Chargers may need contingency plans soon. Expected to open in July, SoFi Stadium is less certain to be ready for Week 1. Rams CEO Kevin Demoff is no longer committing to the site being ready by that time.

Our stadium, and I believe the Raiders’ stadium as well, will both be amazing when they are finished and when they will begin play, which will certainly happen in the near future, whether that’s in July, August, September, in 2021,” Demoff said, via Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think you can look at either of these stadiums as short-term projects to finish but rather long-term beacons for the franchises and for the NFL.”

One of the workers on the Inglewood, Calif., site tested positive for COVID-19. Another is presumed to have the coronavirus, Farmer adds. The $5 billion project has long been scheduled to be completed in time for the 2020 season, but COVID-19 — as it’s done to many aspects of American life — has made this timeline less certain.

This is not the time you want to be finishing a stadium, in this environment as you prepare,” Demoff said. “Because it’s when you need to be all hands on deck, walking through the building every day, meeting with your staff, working out the kinks and planning for it. So when you’ve been building something for a few years, you would love an optimal environment to finish it.”

While the Rams playing at the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Chargers at Dignity Health Park would seemingly be the L.A. teams’ contingency plans, bigger issues loom. Earlier Saturday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he does not envision a scenario in which California stadiums and arenas will be able to host fans. The NFL’s current stance is for fans to be allowed in stadiums and the season to start on schedule, though the league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, walked that back a bit.

Interestingly, Jeff Pash, general counsel to the NFL, said that not only do the Chargers and Rams have contingency plans in the event their stadium is not ready but that the Raiders do as well. The Raiders recently declined an option to play the 2020 season in Oakland and years ago UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium was deemed a non-starter. It is not clear what the Raiders’ alternate-site option is at this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Decline Option To Play 2020 Season In Oakland

An option existed for the Raiders to play a fourth lame-duck season in Oakland, in the event their Las Vegas stadium was not ready on time. But the Raiders will not take it, according to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press.

The COVID-19 pandemic has injected uncertainty into the Raiders’ stadium situation, but they notified officials in Oakland they will not exercise an option to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2020. The Raiders still plan to play in Las Vegas; 2020 has served as their relocation window for years.

As for the stadium construction amid this health crisis, Dubow adds that the project remains ongoing. Nevada has shut down numerous businesses, and casinos have been temporarily closing. But the stadium project has been deemed “essential” and is continuing as scheduled. The $1.9 billion domed stadium remains scheduled to open this summer.

The Raiders received approval to relocate in 2017 but played the 2017, ’18 and ’19 seasons in Oakland. UNLV’s current home venue — Sam Boyd Stadium — was deemed a non-starter as a temporary Raiders site years ago. Mark Davis also did not give serious consideration to sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers, so it appears, for the time being, the Raiders will power through this coronavirus pandemic in an effort to have their stadium ready.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Considering Leaving Oakland Early?

The lawsuit the city of Oakland filed against the Raiders on Tuesday may chase the Raiders out of town a year before they planned.

A high-ranking team official said, via Jason Cole of FanSided (Twitter link), there is “no way” the Raiders will play the 2019 season in Oakland after the lawsuit.

No lease exists for the Raiders to play at Oakland Coliseum next season, and although Mark Davis wanted the team to remain in Oakland for one more season before its 2020 Las Vegas move, the Raiders now appear to be also considering alternatives.

Five or six cities will be considered, per Cole, who adds some of those markets already have NFL teams. The Raiders have been linked to San Diego, San Antonio and Reno thus far. Interestingly, one place they will not consider playing 2019 is Las Vegas. Once believed to be holding UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium as an emergency stopgap option, the Raiders will not play there next season because the site is “not workable,” Cole tweets.

Further complicating matters, Cole adds (via Twitter) the Raiders will not share a stadium with the 49ers and are unlikely to play anywhere in northern California in ’19. It’s unknown what the other markets would be, but ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez reported Reno, Nev., may be an option (Twitter link). The team is considering making the northern Nevada city its future training camp site.

As for where the Raiders may play next, Cole tweets a few previously unmentioned contenders will be Portland, St. Louis, Seattle and Phoenix. Some of this depends on if the Raiders opt to keep their facility in Oakland and travel to games, but Cole adds (via Twitter) a strong chance now exists the team packs up after this season and moves to its temporary city.

The 49ers showed interest in taking the Raiders in while they await their Vegas dome’s construction, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (on Twitter), but Davis did not seriously entertain that possibility.

Raiders Hope To Play 2019 Season In Oakland

As the second Jon Gruden era begins in Oakland, the Raiders continue to attempt to gain a foothold in Las Vegas while their new stadium is being built. They are going to play in the Bay Area this season, but beyond that, there are no guarantees just yet.

The team does not have a surefire 2019 home. The Raiders’ lease with the Oakland Alameida Coliseum expires after the 2018 season, but their goal is to remain there for 2019, Vincent Bonsignore of the Orange County Register notes.

While UNLV’s home venue — Sam Boyd Stadium — was once seen as a possible contingency plan in case the Raiders and Oakland could not make a lame-duck situation work, that no longer appears to be the case. Bonsignore writes no temporary stadium solution exists in Vegas, so unlike the Rams and Chargers, the Raiders are sticking around in their longtime market while their domed site is being constructed. The 2020 season has been mentioned as the goal for that stadium’s unveiling, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes that still isn’t certain.

And if the Raiders are unable to come to terms with Oakland on another lease to play at their 50-plus-year-old stadium for the 2019 season, Bonsignore expects San Diego and San Antonio to surface as possible stopgap home sites.

As far as the gap between the announcement of the move and the actual moving into the stadium, it’s a tough one,” Mark Davis said, via Bonsignore. “But we want to try and bring a championship to the Bay Area, if we do, that will be fantastic. If we don’t, I can assure you we will have given it all we could to make that happen.”

The Raiders in September 2017 were discussing a lease extension with the city of Oakland for a possible plan to play both the 2019 and ’20 seasons there, in the event a construction delay occurs preventing the team from moving to Las Vegas until 2021. But with those talks being reported nearly 10 months ago, and no such agreement known to have taken place, it adds to the uncertainty surrounding the Raiders’ home following the 2018 campaign.

Davis maintains the eventual exit from Oakland will be agonizing, but he doesn’t regret his decision to relocate after Nevada provided the public funding — a record $750MM — Oakland didn’t.

It all came down to the public entities and where they felt their efforts should be placed. And obviously we didn’t rank No. 1,” Davis said. “(Oakland) took the approach that why should we give you money? And it was never about them giving us money. And I’ve said that a number of times. All we ever asked for was help to stay in the Bay Area. It’s the most beautiful place in the world. We’ve got the greatest fans in the world up there. But we needed a place that would allow us to compete financially with the rest of the NFL.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Discussing Lease Extension With Oakland Coliseum

The Raiders are signed to play home games at Oakland Coliseum through the 2018 season, but with their Las Vegas venue not set to be ready by 2020 at the earliest, the team is tentatively expected to stay in the Bay Area in 2019 as well.

However, this franchise may go by the “Oakland Raiders” for longer than expected. The Raiders and Bay Area authorities are discussing an extension to the current lease, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reporting these talks are about staying in Oakland past the 2019 season.

Issues about stadium construction and with the new arrangement with UNLV, which will share the stadium, have induced the Raiders to consider a fourth season as a lame-duck tenant in Oakland. Unlike the Rams and Chargers in Los Angeles, the Raiders aren’t at the point where a delay their stadium’s unveiling is a certainty, per La Canfora. But talks are commencing with Oakland about a post-2019 partnership. Although, it’s still unclear if the sides have an agreement in place for 2019.

They’re talking about adding on at least one more year in Oakland,” a source informed La Canfora about a possible 2020 season in northern California.

La Canfora reports the director of the Coliseum Commission is open to such an arrangement. However, we heard earlier this year Oakland was considering concluding the sides’ relationship after the 2018 lease expires.

The NFL insider adds the Raiders might be using a lease extension in their current city as leverage in the UNLV talks — which have become somewhat contentious, prompting the university to hire a pricey lawyer to handle negotiations with the relocating NFL team — but at the same time are coming to grips with the fact they may need a stadium solution for the 2020 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Hali, Reid, Raiders, Broncos

Entering his 12th season with the Chiefs, Tamba Hali‘s role might be closer to a part-time position when compared to his near-decade run as a consistent presence on Kansas City defenses. The team has Justin Houston healthy and Dee Ford back after a breakout season. Hali took to Twitter to address his status with the Chiefs, firing up a string of tweets shaped around his lack of usage in January’s divisional-round loss to the Steelers (Twitter links). The 33-year-old was not happy playing just seven plays and tweeted, “Am I needed in KC anymore?”

Hali added (on Twitter) he was told his minimized play was to preserve him for the playoffs, which is interesting considering the Chiefs were in an elimination game. But Ford and Houston were the team’s primary linebackers that night. Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, noting the tweets’ authenticity, pointed out how the outside linebacker kept quiet about this for a while but has obviously been upset about his lack of playing time in the Chiefs’ biggest game in 13 years (Twitter links). Paylor adds (on Twitter) Hali is not believed to be upset about being tied to the Chiefs but wants a prominent role.

A 2006 first-round pick, Hali is now on his third Chiefs contract — a three-year, $21MM pact — and that deal being backloaded inflates his cap charge from $3.8MM in 2016 to $8.6MM this season. Kansas City incurring a dead-money penalty of $8.91MM in the event of a 2017 Hali release makes that almost certainly a non-starter for a team up against the cap. But in 2018, the Chiefs can cut Hali and save $7MM. Ford’s salary also rises north of $8MM in 2018 due to the Chiefs exercising his fifth-year option. A five-time Pro Bowler whom Pro Football Focus rated as a top outside linebacker as recently as 2015, Hali started in front of slower-developing Ford in 2014 and ’15 but ceded ground as last season progressed and Houston returned.

However, the team could probably benefit from Hali as a part-time pass rusher, as several teams have from aging stalwarts in recent years. But his usage rate could be a point of contention, if Saturday’s string of posts is any indication.

Here’s the latest out of Kansas City and the rest of the AFC West.

  • The Chiefs’ ouster of John Dorsey and promotion of Brett Veach figures to give Andy Reid more power regarding personnel matters, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Veach broke into the NFL with the Reid-era Eagles — as Reid’s personal assistant — in the 2000s and followed the coach to Kansas City in 2013.
  • UNLV hired a pricey lawyer to negotiate terms with the Raiders on the parties’ future use of the $1.9 billion domed stadium set for construction and future use, Adam Candee of the Las Vegas Sun reports. The Mountain West Conference program and the Raiders are legally bound, via state mandate, to co-exist at the to-be-constructed venue. But the sides have to negotiate the agreement. Florio notes the Raiders proposed the first draft of said agreement, one Candee and Florio note was tilted toward the NFL team.
  • The Broncos haven’t had a place for No. 4 cornerbacks since forming their dominant trio of Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby in 2014. Kayvon Webster hardly saw the field as a defender after Talib and Roby arrived, leading to his defection to the Rams, but the Broncos drafted a project corner in Brendan Langley out of Lamar in the third round. Langley doesn’t figure to play a big role this season, but Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post notes the team sees the ex-Division I-FCS defender as a potential No. 1 corner down the line.

Latest On Derek Carr’s Contract

Derek Carr‘s five-year, $125MM contract makes him the highest-paid NFL player and the first to break the $25MM-AAV barrier. Some of this deal’s specifics — like Carr’s $70MM guaranteed and $40MM fully guaranteed at signing — have been reported, but Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports some key details in the agreement on Sunday.

Derek CarrCarr received a $12.5MM signing bonus and will make $5MM in 2017 base salary. According to OverTheCap, the 26-year-old quarterback will have a 2017 cap figure of $15.73MM. For the ensuing five years, Carr’s cap figures are as follows: $25MM (2018), $22.5MM (’19), $21.5MM (’20), $22.13MM (’21) and $19.88MM (’22).

As for how the guarantees in these years are structured, Carr picked up a $7.5MM roster bonus on June 30 to add to his 2017 total. For 2018, his $7.4MM base salary is guaranteed for injury only at signing, but Florio reports that will be fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2018 league year. A $15MM roster bonus will come Carr’s way on Day 3 of the ’18 league year as well. That will be paid within 15 days of that March date, per Florio.

In 2019, Carr’s deal is less complicated. He will earn a base salary of $19.9MM for his age-28 season. It’s structured like his ’18 salary, being guaranteed for injury only at signing but fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2019 league year. For 2020, the base pay is $18.9MM, with $2.9MM of that guaranteed for injury at signing. Carr’s 2021 and ’22 bases are worth $19.53MM and $19.78MM, respectively. Both figures are non-guaranteed, according to Florio. Of course, Carr could be operating on his third contract by then.

Where Carr will be playing matters now as well.

With Nevada not having a state income tax and California’s residing at 13 percent, Carr will see more money once the Raiders move to Las Vegas. Florio notes that the uncertain 2019 season — after the Raiders’ Oakland Coliseum lease expires and a year before the earliest date by which Vegas stadium is set to be ready — will bring some variance. If the Raiders stay in Oakland, Carr will pay an additional $2.6MM in taxes for 2019 compared to how this would shake out if the franchise moved to another Nevada site while the domed stadium is being finished.

Carr conceded he wanted to leave some money for the Raiders to be able to keep Gabe Jackson and Amari Cooper (when he becomes extension-eligible in 2018) while helping the team plan for the seemingly inevitable record-setting Khalil Mack extension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Backloaded Deal For Raiders’ Derek Carr?

Derek Carr and the Raiders have a new deal which will keep the quarterback in place through the 2022 season. We know that the new money average on the deal – $25MM per year – is an all-time record, but there are other factors which will dictate the true value of the deal. Naturally, the cash flow and nature of the guarantees will tell us a lot about how Carr did in negotiations, but his reps may have also structured his deal with the Nevada state tax code in mind, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweetsDerek Carr/Khalil Mack (vertical)

[RELATED: Raiders, Derek Carr Agree To Record-Breaking Deal]

California’s state tax rate is 13.3%. Meanwhile, there is no state tax in Nevada. A backloaded deal could make a lot of sense for Carr and allow him to hang on to millions more in income.

We know that the Raiders plan to play their home games in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. In 2019, the team could move to a temporary home in Nevada while waiting for it’s new home to be built, but it’s also possible that they’ll extend their stay in Oakland for one more year. It stands to reason that Carr’s team has opted for less money in the first two years of the new deal (’18, ’19) with a step up in 2020, when the new stadium is projected to open.

It’s not just Carr that will be thinking of the Battle Born State when negotiating a new contract with the Raiders. The same will go for any Raider in extension talks, including Khalil Mack, Gabe Jackson, and Amari Cooper, Schefter tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.