City Of San Diego

La Canfora’s Latest: Steelers, Bengals, Bucs

Antonio Brown‘s decision to skip practice on Monday represented a culmination of months of tension between the Steelers and their All-Pro receiver, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Brown was upset earlier this year after being told that his personal trainer and social media manager would no longer be welcome on Pittsburgh’s practice field, and some within the organization believe his multi-day absence during training camp — ostensibly due to a injury — was instead related to his disappointment. Ultimately, the Steelers believe Brown simply wants to win, but there is reportedly also concern with the club that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s close relationship with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner (and his subsequent influence on play-calling) could cause more strain in the locker room.

Here’s more from La Canfora:

  • Bengals running back Joe Mixon could potentially return to the field in time for Week 4, per La Canfora. Mixon underwent knee surgery immediately following Cincinnati’s Week 3 Thursday night victory, and initial assessments indicated he could be sidelined two-to-four weeks. However, because the Bengals played mid-week in Week 3, Mixon’s timeline could be sped up, meaning he could return to action when Cincinnati faces Atlanta next Sunday. A second-round pick in 2017, Mixon was outstanding during the Bengals’ season opener, averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry on the ground while adding five receptions in the passing game. Backup Giovani Bernard is holding down the fort while Mixon is out, while the Bengals also have Mark Walton and Thomas Rawls on their running back depth chart.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick is unlikely to be replaced as the Buccaneers‘ starting quarterback no matter how he fares against the Steelers on Monday night, reports La Canfora. While Jameis Winston will come off suspension prior to Week 4, Fitzpatrick has been among the league’s best quarterbacks through two games, as he leads the NFL passing yardage while racking up eight passing touchdowns. Fitzpatrick has internal support within the locker room (and especially from Tampa Bay’s offensive line), so the club’s coaching staff is unlikely to make a change any time soon. The Buccaneers face the Bears in Week 4 before heading into a bye the following week.
  • The Raiders will move to Las Vegas either in 2019 or 2020, and they could potentially need a temporary stadium for the 2019 campaign if no extension with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority can be reached. With that in mind, the Raiders have contacted the city of San Diego about playing there next season, says La Canfora, who notes that such as possibility is viewed as remote. More likely, the Raiders will play one year in Oakland, or spend next season sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers.

AFC West Notes: Bolts, Holton, Henderson

Beginning their second year in Los Angeles, the Chargers are in an interesting spot. They have perhaps as talented a roster as they’ve possessed since their late-2000s run of AFC West titles but play in a soccer stadium and carry likely the NFL’s smallest fan base. The NFL gave Dean Spanos the option of leaving San Diego for L.A. in 2016, and he exercised it once the Bolts’ bid to secure public funding for a downtown stadium failed. But some owners were disappointed Spanos took the league up on the San Diego exit strategy, author Mark Leibovich writes in his new book, “Big Game: The NFL In Dangerous Times” (via Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune). Some of the owners were displeased with the efforts he put forth to land a new stadium deal in San Diego, Leibovich writes, adding this contingent of power brokers were “miffed” the Chargers owner turned the situation into “a towering embarrassment.”

This is an interesting stance considering the NFL gave the Chargers L.A. dibs before the Raiders, but now that the Bolts moved, they don’t appear to be thriving in their new market. That could have been expected given their lack of history in Los Angeles compared to the Rams or Raiders. Krasovic adds some around the league wonder if Spanos will sell the Chargers a few years into their stay at Stan Kroenke‘s Inglewood stadium in believing the franchise’s value will have peaked by then.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West:

  • Joey Bosa‘s official diagnosis is a bone bruise on his left foot, Eric Williams of ESPN.com tweets. The Chargers defensive end is not expected to need surgery, with rest and rehab being the current plan to get the stalwart pass rusher back on the field. He’s not expected to play against the Bills on Sunday, and Anthony Lynn wouldn’t be surprised if he missed more games.
  • Another day, another interesting move from Jon Gruden. The Raiders recently brought back wide receiver Johnny Holton, a backup who played in 31 games for Jack Del Rio‘s final two Oakland teams, but they’re going to try him as a cornerback, OC Greg Olson said (via the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Michael Gehlken, on Twitter). These type of moves are rare but not unprecedented. That said, Holton — currently on the Raiders’ practice squad — has never played cornerback at any level, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic (via Twitter). A UDFA out of Cincinnati, Holton caught nine passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns last season.
  • The Broncos cut ties with Carlos Henderson, potentially for good, by removing him from their practice squad on Thursday. Vance Joseph said (via Troy Renck of Denver7, on Twitter) this was strictly a football decision and wasn’t related to the 2017 third-round pick’s suspension or his absence from training camp. Only four Broncos 2017 draftees — Garett Bolles, DeMarcus Walker, Jake Butt and Chad Kelly — remain on the active roster. Two others (cornerback Brendan Langley and return man Isaiah McKenzie) are on the practice squad. Henderson has to play in a regular-season game.

AFC Rumors: Chargers, D. Harris, Flacco

A league spokesperson, Joe Lockhart, said earlier this week there have been no discussions about the Chargers returning to San Diego, and a team source confirmed as much to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The source said simply, “We’re not going back.”

Of course, the Chargers are losing the battle for Los Angeles at the moment, leading some to speculate that the league could choose to reverse course and ship the Bolts back from whence they came. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk also suggests that Lockhart’s quote is not as unequivocal as it could be; Lockhart said there have been no discussions about a return to San Diego, not that a return will not happen. Plus, Florio points out that the Chargers source who spoke with Rapoport did so anonymously, which creates the impression that there’s something sensitive about the notion that the Chargers aren’t looking back.

That may be a bit of a reach, particularly since San Diego still does not have a stadium option, which prompted the move in the first place. Anything can happen, of course, but as of right now, it does not look as if the Chargers will be leaving LA.

Now for more from the AFC. We took a swing around the NFC earlier today:

  • Patriots linebacker David Harris, whom the team signed to a two-year, $5MM deal ($1.25MM guaranteed) in June, has been active for four of New England’s five games but has played in only seven defensive snaps. He is behind four other players on the LB depth chart, leading Mike Reiss of ESPN.com to speculate that, without a significant injury to another player, Harris’ job could be in jeopardy. Reiss cites Harris’ lack of speed as the primary reason for his lack of playing time.
  • After starting the season 2-0, the Ravens have looked awful in their following two games against the Jaguars and Steelers, making today’s matchup the Raiders almost a must-win. As usual, quarterback Joe Flacco has been a popular whipping boy for the team’s struggles, despite the rash of crippling injuries to the O-line, the lack of a running game, and the lack of imagination in play-calling. But it is clear that something has to give, though if Baltimore were inclined to release Flacco — and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun suggests that thought is not on anyone’s mind at the moment — it would likely not happen until 2019 at the earliest. At that point, if Baltimore continues to struggle, the Ravens could have a whole new coaching staff. It is worth noting, as Zrebiec does, that the one time in Flacco’s career that he has worked with an accomplished offensive coordinator (Gary Kubiak in 2014), he enjoyed the best season of his career, even though the talent around him was not much better than it usually is.
  • Although Browns fans may not like to hear it, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plainer Dealer believes that Cleveland’s front office is going about building the team the right way. It is stockpiling picks, limiting free agent spending, and some young players are developing as hoped. There have, of course, been some missteps in terms of personnel evaluation, but Pluto suggests the coaching staff is as much to blame for the team’s 1-19 record over the last 20 games as the front office. He says the only thing to do is to stay the course and continue to focus on the draft, though the team will likely need to spend more in free agency than it originally expected. It may also need to reevaluate DeShone Kizer sooner than it hoped.

NFL: We’re Not Moving Chargers Back To SD

The Chargers are in a “Fight For L.A.” and, so far, they’re losing. The Bolts are 0-4 and playing in front of crowds that cannot fill up the 27,000 StubHub Center, but the league says it will not reverse course on the move. Chargers cheerleader (vertical)

There is no discussion of returning to San Diego from the league or the club,” a league spokesperson told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

We’re only one month into the Chargers’ inaugural season in Los Angeles, but it already looks like the team and the league may have made a judgement error. The Chargers have failed to forge a fanbase in a city where many residents cheer for the Raiders and most of the others have already aligned themselves with the Rams. That could all change quickly if the Chargers start winning games, but they’re on pace to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.

The Chargers are slated to move into Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium in 2020. If things don’t pick up in the interim, the league may want to reconsider their gameplan.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Raiders, Broncos, Cards, Rams

The Raiders have activated rookie cornerback Gareon Conley from the active/PUP list, the club announced today, adding that Conley is practicing for the first time on Tuesday. Conley, of course, slid to the 24th overall selection in the draft following rape allegations, but he was eventually cleared and won’t face charges. While he still needs to get up to speed, it’s possible Conley could become a starter sooner rather than later. Fellow cornerback Sean Smith –who’s facing his own legal troubles — has been demoted from Oakland’s starting lineup, meaning Conley could see expanded action during his rookie campaign.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Veteran safety T.J. Ward may not be the only player the Broncos are open to trading, as the club could also listen to offers for fourth-year receiver Cody Latimer. speculates Troy Renck of Denver7 (Twitter link). Latimer, a second-round draft choice in 2014, has never broken out in Denver, as he’s posted 16 receptions over three seasons. However, he’s still young (25), plays special teams (41% of the Broncos’ ST plays a year ago), and offers intriguing measurables (here’s his MockDraftable profile). And perhaps most importantly, Latimer could be had for minimal cost, especially given the rise of fellow receivers Jordan Taylor and Kalif Raymond in Denver, as Renck details.
  • While Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon was recently removed from the active/PUP list, it’s an open question as to whether he’ll be ready Week 1, writes Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic. The Cardinals have the depth to withstand a short Bucannon absence, as they signed Karlos Dansby, Josh Bynes, and Philip Wheeler and drafted Haason Reddick this offseason. But a Bucannon injury will be felt, as he played on nearly three-quarters of Arizona’s defensive snaps last season, managing 89 tackles in the process. He’s signed through 2018 under the terms of his fifth-year option.
  • Rams tight end Temarrick Hemingway will require surgery for a fractured fibula and is out indefinitely, tweets Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News. Hemingway, who appeared in eight games last season after being drafted in the sixth round, has been challenging for a rotational role behind fellow tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee, per Bonsignore, which makes Hemingway’s injury all the more devastating. Los Angeles could conceivably sign another tight end before the season begins, although high-profile free agents like Gary Barnidge or Ladarius Green probably aren’t a fit.
  • On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled that special taxes may be raised via citizen’s initiative through a simple majority, instead of the two-thirds majority that was previously required, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune. While those new rules won’t help bring the Chargers back to San Diego, it could allow the city to eventually lure another club to the region. However, the Chargers’ 2016 stadium measure received only 43.64% of the vote, per Acee, meaning taxes wouldn’t have been raised even under the new conditions.

Latest On Potential Cities For Raiders

Contrary to a report that the Raiders’ hopes of relocating to Las Vegas are “all but dead,” multiple sources have told Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News that the plan is “absolutely salvageable.” Bosnignore adds that Las Vegas-based businessman Sheldon Adelson, who on Monday backed out of putting $650MM toward a new stadium for the Raiders, will attend the Super Bowl in Houston on Sunday. There’s no word as to whether he’ll meet with Raiders owner Mark Davis and restart negotiations, however (Twitter link).

Raiders Fan/Vegas

The loss of potential financial support from both Adelson and Goldman Sachs has led to optimism that the Raiders could end up staying in Oakland, but Davis still doesn’t seem eager to keep the franchise there. In fact, the Raiders haven’t even contacted Oakland officials since Adelson bailed, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Three sources indicated to Cole that the Vegas dream is indeed “dead,” though, which conflicts with what Bonsignore has heard. If it is off the table and the Raiders aren’t open to remaining in Oakland, Cole names San Antonio – a city with which the Raiders have had past flirtations – as a possible destination.

Having lost the Chargers to LA last month, the city of San Diego has also come up as a suitor for the Raiders. Mayor Kevin Faulconer has already contacted the league to let it know of San Diego’s interest, and Don Banks of SI.com and NFL.com reports that the Raiders could head there and play in the Chargers’ longtime home, Qualcomm Stadium.

While the Chargers were unwilling to continue in the 50-year-old facility, the notion of it undergoing a significant facelift and then housing the Raiders “will gain support in league circles,” writes Banks. Should that come to fruition, the NFL would regain the San Diego market, which it didn’t want to lose in the first place; further, the Raiders would land a stadium upgrade over the Oakland Coliseum, notes Banks, who adds that the league wouldn’t be opposed to having three Southern California-based franchises.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Raiders’ Future: Vegas, Oakland, SD

After casino magnate Sheldon Adelson scrapped his plan to commit $650MM toward a $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas for the Raiders on Monday, there was a report that Goldman Sachs might also bail because of its relationship with Adelson. It turns out that will be the case. The investment firm will not help the Raiders finance a stadium without the 83-year-old Adelson’s involvement, a source told Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

Mark Davis

Goldman Sachs was supposed to be the Raiders’ fallback option in the event of Adelson’s withdrawal. Not having either could be a death blow to the franchise’s hopes of relocating to Las Vegas. With neither around to aid the Raiders, staying in Oakland for the long haul could become a more realistic scenario than it was was previously.

Raiders owner Mark Davis hasn’t been amenable to the joint stadium proposal that the city of Oakland and the Ronnie Lott-fronted Fortress Group have put forth, but the deal isn’t without merit, as CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes. The city would set aside 130 acres of land for a stadium and handle all the taxes associated with it, per La Canfora, who adds that the NFL would chip in $300MM. Another $300MM to $400MM would come from Fortress (plus whatever else is necessary to complete construction) toward a stadium to replace the outdated Oakland Coliseum. Fortress would also perhaps want an ownership stake in the Raiders – something Davis is not open to giving out – but there could be other ways for him to “make them whole,” according to La Canfora.

Lott’s group issued a hopeful statement Tuesday in the wake of the Adelson news, saying (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk): “We stand ready to work with the team and NFL to keep the Raiders here at home. We have the land available at the existing Coliseum site following the actions of the City of Oakland and Alameda County last December. We have a strong financing partner in Fortress Investment Group. We have an additional $100 million due to the NFL incentive to keep the Raiders in Oakland. And of course, we have the best fans in the world right here in the heart of Raider Nation. Add to all that a diverse and fast growing community, a top 10 television market, and more Fortune 500 companies than any region in the western United States. Bottom line, if the Raiders want to stay in Oakland, we are more than ready to be a partner in making that happen.”

If Davis can’t make things work in either Vegas or Oakland, the suddenly Chargers-less city of San Diego could quickly regain entry into the league. Mayor Kevin Faulconer reached out to the NFL on Tuesday to let the league know it’s interested in the Oakland franchise, while another San Diego official at least made an attempt to contact the Raiders, but it’s unknown if the two sides spoke, reports Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

San Diego’s plan to erect a stadium for a Major League Soccer franchise could help its cause in landing the Raiders, relays Acee, who notes that the proposal “sets aside a 16-acre parcel specifically for an NFL stadium” to replace Qualcomm Stadium. Further, Davis “loves” the city and might be more flexible in negotiations to build a facility there than Chargers owner Dean Spanos was. It’s also worth noting that the league didn’t want to lose the San Diego market, as the Chargers’ relocation left commissioner Roger Goodell “disappointed” and owners “very upset.” Those same parties haven’t been overly enthusiastic regarding the prospect of the Raiders playing in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the United States.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: 49ers, Palmer, Bolts, San Diego

Jed York can’t officially hire Kyle Shanahan until after Super Bowl LI, but he didn’t make a secret out of who the 49ers‘ next head coach will be. The point man on the 49ers’ GM and HC hiring processes, York referenced Shanahan as his coach in an interview with TheMMQB.com’s Peter King.

So many opportunities are missed in the NFL because people don’t want to do something different. We’re OK with that, because I am confident in Kyle and [new GM] John [Lynch],” York said, via King. “John has watched John Elway, and how he’s built a team in Denver. As easy as it is to say he hasn’t built a team yet—I get that—I talk to Kyle, and he says John is the most prepared of all the TV [people] he meets in the production meetings before games.

“We understand we’ll have to live with growing pains, but I’m willing to do that because I believe the upside with both of them is so great.”

King reports York met with Lynch in both San Francisco and Atlanta last week, with Shanahan also meeting with Lynch in Atlanta, both before scheduled summits with GM finalists George Paton and Terry McDonough. San Francisco will give six-year contracts to both Lynch and Shanahan after York made the most stunning hire of the year on Sunday night.

Here’s more out of the 49ers’ hire, along with some other news out west.

  • Assistant GM Tom Gamble will be given a chance to prove he should remain with the 49ers, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com tweets. Gamble ascended to his current position last summer. Part of the fallout from last night’s stunning Lynch announcement was the new GM already had an experienced personnel mind for his top lieutenant. Gamble, who’s enjoyed two stints with the 49ers, will have an audition period through the draft, per Maiocco. Gamble worked with Chip Kelly in both Philadelphia and San Francisco as well, but the Eagles fired him after the 2014 season.
  • Carson Palmer confirmed he hasn’t made his decision about returning for a 15th NFL season. “I guess nothing’s ever official until it is, but I’d like to play if my body responds the way I hope,” the 37-year-old Cardinals quarterback said in a text message to Dan Bickley of the Arizona Daily Republic. Palmer missed a game this season because of a concussion. A Sunday report put the statuses of both Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald in doubt. Palmer is due a base salary of $15.5MM in 2017, with a $2MM roster bonus attached to his employment. The Cardinals have not placed a timetable on Palmer and Fitzgerald but would like to know the duo’s decisions by mid-February.
  • Former Vikings wide receivers coach George Stewart will move to Los Angeles and become the Chargers‘ special teams coach, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reports (on Twitter). Stewart resided as the Vikings’ longest-tenured assistant coach prior to making this decision, having coached Minnesota’s receivers since 2007.
  • An NFL return to San Diego is not expected to occur for the foreseeable future, Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes. While the league would look to San Diego if it planned to expand, that’s not on the agenda, Krasovic reports. And a source informs him another team relocating there is not expected to happen. Some familiar with the inner-workings of NFL stadium procurement believe Dean Spanos and Stan Kroenke, now tied together in Los Angeles, would try to discourage fellow owners from supporting another team from moving to San Diego. The southern California city’s appeal to the league has diminished now that L.A. has two teams, per Krasovic.

Chargers To Relocate To Los Angeles

The Chargers will have a new home in 2017: The franchise could announce as early as Thursday that it’s moving from San Diego to Los Angeles, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). In doing so, the Chargers will end their 55-year run in San Diego and join the Stan Kroenke-led Rams, who departed St. Louis for LA last winter.

Los Angeles Rams & Chargers (featured)

The Chargers and Rams agreed in principle to a deal last January to share a stadium in Inglewood, which is currently under construction and set to open in 2019. Chargers owner Dean Spanos could have headed to LA then, but he instead kept the franchise in San Diego for 2016 in hopes of working out a new stadium deal there.

Spanos was unable to make anything happen in San Diego, however, as the money the city, the county, the Chargers and the league had combined to commit still fell $175MM short of what a Qualcomm Stadium replacement would have cost. Spanos had until Jan. 17 to strike a deal in San Diego and avoid relocation, but he is abandoning that possibility less than a week before the deadline.

It’s unclear where the Chargers will play the next couple seasons as they wait for the Inglewood facility to open. They could share the Los Angeles Coliseum with the Rams and USC Trojans, though the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., has also come up as a potential stopgap. However, that stadium is only capable of holding 27,000 people. The Chargers called the Coliseum home in 1960, their inaugural season, before relocating to San Diego the next year. That partnership worked out for five and a half decades, but now the Chargers are headed back to where they began.

With the Bolts’ future now known, all eyes will turn to the Raiders, who could also go elsewhere – Las Vegas – by next season. The Raiders were an outside possibility for LA, but that’s now officially off the table. The franchise has until Feb. 15 to file for Vegas relocation, and the league’s 31 other owners could vote on its fate sometime in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Chargers’, Raiders’ Relocation

The Chargers had been facing a Jan. 15 deadline to decide whether to join the Rams in Los Angeles by next season, but the NFL pushed that date back Wednesday, per the Associated Press. The Bolts now have until Jan. 17 to choose their fate, and the league is still holding out hope that they’ll remain in San Diego, a source told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. However, the league won’t prevent owner Dean Spanos from relocating the team if he’s unable to find a stadium solution in San Diego, another source informed Acee.

Dean Spanos (vertical)

“No one is going to tell Dean he can’t go,” said the source. “They’re going to tell him he shouldn’t go.”

Spanos doesn’t seem eager to leave San Diego, but he also hasn’t made enough progress toward a new facility that would replace the 50-year-old Qualcomm Stadium. As of last week, the Chargers were of the belief that a $100MM to $175MM gap existed between the funds the city, county, league and team were willing to put forth and what a new stadium would actually cost. That remains the case, per Acee, who now lists the figure at exactly $175MM.

The Chargers would welcome more financial aid from the league, but its owners – especially the Rams’ Stan Kroenke – haven’t shown any urgency to make that happen, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). With that in mind, the Chargers are operating as if they’re about to relocate, Acee reports. The franchise has already drafted a press release and planned a news conference, though Acee adds that it did the same a year ago before delaying its LA decision.

The league’s stadium and finance committees met Wednesday to discuss the futures of the Chargers and Raiders, but the latter club was the primary focus.

“There was little to no discussion on the topic of the Chargers,” league executive Eric Grubman revealed.

The Raiders have until Feb. 15 to file for relocation to Las Vegas, where businessman Sheldon Adelson could contribute $650MM to a $1.9 billion stadium. The two sides continue making progress after some previous hiccups in negotiations, tweets Cole, but the Raiders aren’t going to be content to let their Vegas dreams slip away if Adelson backs out.

“The Raiders are looking at the potential of doing [it] without Mr. Adelson if it comes down to that,” said Steelers owner Art Rooney II, who’s also chairman of the league’s stadium committee.

There’s no word on exactly how the Raiders would raise $650MM in Adelson’s absence. The team is set to put forth $500MM toward the cause, while Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Legislature previously signed off on contributing a record $750MM in public funds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.