City Of St. Louis

AFC Notes: Browns, Pats, Raiders, Ravens

There was speculation late last season that Peyton Manning would retire and take a prominent front office position, perhaps in Cleveland. Manning has since retired and the Browns’ presidency is currently vacant, but it doesn’t sound as if the 39-year-old will end up with them.

“Whatever Peyton decides to do, and I have no idea what that is, I have not literally talked to him since wishing him good luck before the Super Bowl,” owner Jimmy Haslam, a friend of Manning’s, said (link via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com). “Whatever organization gets him will be fortunate whether it’s a pro organization, a business, media, but I think we’ve got a great organization in place in Cleveland and we’re excited to go forward.”

Here’s more form the AFC:

  • Even though Patriots owner Robert Kraft has made an effort to persuade the NFL into giving back the first-round pick it took from the team as a result of the Deflategate scandal, club president Jonathan Kraft told Tom Curran of CSNNE.com that it’s a losing battle. On why the Pats haven’t sued the league in an effort to recoup the pick, Jonathan Kraft said, “It’ll take longer than the time before the draft happens and the money isn’t the issue here, the issue is getting your draft pick back and at some point you have to realize it’s not gonna happen and the best revenge will be putting the best team on the field next year and hopefully having a very successful season.”
  • The Raiders have made some major additions in free agency this year, but they swung and missed on landing safety Eric Weddle – who signed with the Ravens. Not surprisingly, then, head coach Jack Del Rio acknowledged Tuesday that safety is an area of concern for the club, saying, “[W]e need to acquire some people” (Twitter link via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle).
  • Safety issues aside, the Raiders’ roster looks more impressive on paper than it has in years. However, the organization’s future in Oakland remains uncertain. When asked to update the Raiders’ situation there, owner Mark Davis said, “There’s nothing … I’m still trying to get something with the stadium” (link via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com). Davis also spoke highly of Los Angeles and Las Vegas as potential homes for the Raiders, as Maiocco writes, but he shot down the notion of relocating the franchise to St. Louis. “The Raiders brand is a different brand, I believe,” he said. “I just don’t believe St. Louis would maximize it.”
  • Ravens head coach John Harbaugh suggested Tuesday that there would be competition at the left tackle spot going into next season, implying that Eugene Monroe isn’t locked in as the starter, but owner Steve Bisciotti sang a different tune. Bisciotti said “without hesitation” that the job is Monroe’s, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports (on Twitter).
  • In Ravens-related draft news, Bisciotti stated that he doesn’t expect the club to trade up from the sixth pick and into the top five, but he wouldn’t be averse to moving back (Twitter link via Zrebiec).

Community Tailgate: Where Will Raiders Play?

As the NFL offseason nears, there are plenty of topics and storylines to discuss, and PFR’s Community Tailgate is designed to address those stories. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. We’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.

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As we enter February, two of the three NFL franchises that faced major uncertainty last month have some sort of resolution for at least the short term. The Rams are heading to Los Angeles immediately and will play at the Coliseum until their brand-new Inglewood stadium is ready in a few years. The Chargers will play the 2016 season in San Diego before making a final decision on their long-term future.

The only team without any short-term certainty is the Raiders, who appear likely to return to Oakland for at least one more year, but don’t have an agreement in place to play at O.co Coliseum at this point. The stadium, which the Raiders share with MLB’s Oakland Athletics, isn’t exactly the NFL’s most impressive venue, but it’s fine as an interim home, and I expect the Raiders to play there in 2016 while the franchise considers its long-term options.

Owner Mark Davis is in the process of considering those options as we speak — Davis paid a visit to Las Vegas last Friday to meet with a group of investors proposing to build a $1 billion domed stadium near UNLV. Additionally, ideas such as the Raiders building an NFL stadium in San Antonio or sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers have resurfaced in recent weeks as the Raiders mull their next move.

Of course, there are as many cons as pros for most of the Raiders’ potential homes. There’s major skepticism that the NFL would allow a team to relocate to Las Vegas, America’s gambling capital, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Texans owner Bob McNair would likely push hard to keep the Raiders out of Texas. As for sharing a stadium with the Niners, Davis has shown no interest in such a partnership.

Los Angeles is a possibility for the Raiders, but only if the Chargers ultimately decide to pass on a partnership with the Rams, and Davis would still have to reach his own agreement with Stan Kroenke in that scenario. If the Chargers head to L.A. in 2017, San Diego could be in play for the Raiders, though there’s some uncertainty about how the NFL and Chargers owner Dean Spanos would feel about that possibility.

London and Toronto have frequently been cited as potential homes for NFL franchises as well, though there’s no indication that Davis has explored international options yet. St. Louis, having just lost the Rams, would appear on the surface to be a logical match, but Davis has said he’s not considering St. Louis, and mayor Francis Slay doesn’t appear interested in pursing another team.

Oakland may be the best home for the Raiders in both the short- and long-term — Mayor Libby Schaaf expressed optimism for that outcome during an appearance on KTVU on Sunday night, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details.

According to Florio, Schaaf hopes to secure a renewal of the Raiders’ lease at O.co Coliseum and then move on to negotiations on a “permanent, beautiful home for those Raiders.” That’s easier said than done though, and so far none of the discussions between the Raiders and the city of Oakland have resulted in any sort of viable stadium plan. It’s not clear whether the NFL committing an extra $100MM to the project will change that.

What do you think? Should the Raiders do everything they can to make it work in Oakland, or is there another city that makes more sense for them? Where do you think the Raiders will ultimately end up, and where do you think they should end up?

Q&A With Rams Owner Stan Kroenke

Finally, football is headed back to the city of Los Angeles. Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who is historically very camera shy, appeared in front of reporters on Tuesday night after NFL owners voted 30-2 in favor of his Inglewood, California project. After that, he chatted with Sam Farmer and Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times about his team’s impending move. Here’s a look at some of the highlights: Stan Kroenke (vertical)

On his rationale for revamping the defunct Hollywood Park racetrack:

If we didn’t have the perspective of 40 years of doing this, I don’t think any reasonable, rational person would ever do this. But, because we look at it a certain way, we’ve been through so many of these projects, and we’re long-term investors. That’s why we did what we did and stuck our neck out that far.

On the importance of computer approximations of the new stadium in his proposal:

One of the most important things that nailed it (Tuesday) is that we just kept showing them pictures. People love pictures. And what those pictures showed was the thought and the development and the plan, and the depth of the thought.

On the attendance of Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen at the meetings in Houston and his support (Prior to Tuesday, Allen had not been in attendance for an NFL meeting in four years):

When I started working on this two years ago, I took Paul through the whole thing. I said, ‘This is what I think we can do here. I’m not sure we can do it all, but here’s what we’re working on.’ He was always interested. Then once we got to certain point, he definitely got it. He got how good it was.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mark Davis: Raiders Interested In Other Cities

After missing out on the opportunity to relocate to Los Angeles – at least for the time being – Raiders owner Mark Davis confirmed to David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link) that he’s interested in cities besides Oakland.Mark Davis

[RELATED: NFL owners expect Chargers to move to L.A.]

There’s a good chance the Raiders will have to return to Oakland for at least the 2016 season, since there isn’t a lot of time to put together another viable solution. The team’s lease at O.co Coliseum has expired, but it should be possible to remain there on a year-to-year basis in the short term.

Still, the subtext of the statement issued by the team in the wake of the NFL’s Los Angeles decision suggested that the franchise certainly isn’t tied to Oakland for the long term — in fact, that statement didn’t mention the city at all.

“The Raiders congratulate Stan Kroenke and the Rams on their successful bid for relocation to Los Angeles,” The Raiders announced. “The Raiders will now turn our attention to exploring all options to find a permanent stadium solution. We thank fans throughout the Raider Nation for their unrivaled passion and support.”

According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), Davis has grown frustrated with city leaders in Oakland. The Raiders’ top priority is to secure a long-term stadium somewhere, and Davis appears to be losing faith that it will happen in the Bay Area.

Cole suggests that San Antonio will be one market considered by Davis, since the idea of building a stadium between San Antonio and Austin has some appeal to him. Reports have indicated that the Raiders would also take a long look at San Diego if the Chargers relocate to Los Angeles. And, of course, if the Chargers stay in San Diego, the Raiders would have an opportunity to join the Rams in Inglewood a year from now.

One city not on Davis’ list of candidates is St. Louis, according to Hunn, who asked the Raiders owner about that possibility and was told “absolutely not.” That stance shouldn’t concern St. Louis mayor Francis Slay, who said Wednesday that he has “no appetite” for seeking another NFL team after the way the league dealt with the Rams and the city’s stadium proposal (link via The Asociated Press).

If the Raiders do build a new stadium in Oakland or elsewhere, Tuesday’s Los Angeles agreement will ensure that the NFL will provide an extra $100MM to accommodate that project.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Los Angeles Leftovers: Raiders/Chargers Notes

Earlier today, we rounded up several updates on Los Angeles relocation from the perspective of the Rams and their Inglewood stadium project. Of course, while the Rams have some sense of resolution now, the other two teams involved in the situation – the Raiders and Chargers – remain in limbo.

The Chargers will have to regroup and decide whether they want to attempt to work out a deal with Stan Kroenke at the Rams that puts them in Los Angeles for 2016. As for the Raiders, the official statement from the team in the wake of the NFL’s big Tuesday decision didn’t even mention Oakland, and owner Mark Davis alluded to finding a home for the franchise. So while the Raiders may end up back in Oakland in 2016, the club’s long-term future in the Bay Area is far from secure.

Here are a few updates on the Raiders’ and Chargers’ situation as those franchises look ahead to their next steps:

  • If the Chargers end up deciding to move to Inglewood, the Raiders may zero in on San Diego, according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links). Bonsignore adds that there’s no chance the Raiders will try to move to St. Louis, and Jaguars owner Shad Khan told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link) that his franchise won’t be heading to Missouri either.
  • According to Peter King of TheMMQB.com, there are some indications that Chargers owner Dean Spanos will try to strike a deal with Kroenke and the Rams within the next month or two, but that’s not his first preference. King adds that it’s a long shot to think that the Inglewood stadium will ever be a real option for Mark Davis and the Raiders.
  • Spanos, who will spend the next few weeks weighing his options, called the process “excruciating, for everyone,” per Bernie Wilson of The Associated Press. According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), the Chargers brass was “floored” by Tuesday’s outcome.
  • Spanos’ options if he tries to strike a deal with Kroenke will likely come down to putting up $500MM+ for the new stadium to become a partner in the project, or going in as a tenant, says La Canfora (Twitter links). As the CBS scribe observes, coming aboard as a tenant on an affordable lease would be more within Spanos’ price range, but he wouldn’t share in the wealth as much in that scenario.
  • Per La Canfora (Twitter links), the Rams can’t sell PSLs and stadium naming rights, among other things, until February 15, 2017, unless they bring a second team aboard before then, so there’s incentive for Kroenke to get something done with Spanos and the Chargers.

Los Angeles Leftovers: Rams/Inglewood Notes

The Rams are headed back to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, and the Inglewood and St. Louis mayors predictably had quite different reactions to Tuesday’s big announcement. As Martin Rogers of USA Today details, Inglewood mayor James T. Butts was “justifiably jubilant,” calling it a “transformative moment in our history.” St. Louis mayor Francis Slay, on the other hand, responded by ripping the NFL, per Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today.

“The NFL ignored the facts, the loyalty of St. Louis fans, who supported the team through far more downs than ups, and the NFL ignored a strong market and viable plan for a new stadium,” Slay said. “I am proud of our effort and what St. Louis was able to accomplish in an extraordinarily short period of time. I thank everyone who worked so diligently on this project, especially the Governor’s Task Force.”

There’s plenty to digest when it comes to the Rams’ move to the West Coast, so we’ll be breaking down the news in multiple posts today, starting with the Rams’ perspective and checking in on the Raiders and Chargers a little later. Here’s the latest on Stan Kroenke‘s team:

  • Kroenke will have the option of paying the $550MM relocation fee up front or at a rate of about $64MM annually for 10 years, tweets Jim Trotter of ESPN. The Rams owner is expected to pay the fee up front. Meanwhile, Trotter adds (via Twitter) that Kroenke is expected to write a check worth $1.05 billion to put toward the cost of the Inglewood stadium.
  • Cowboys owner and Inglewood native Jerry Jones, never one to shy away from hyperbole, called Kroenke’s stadium plan “absolutely the greatest plan ever conceived in sports, as far as how to put the show on,” as Tom Pelissero of USA Today details. That’s high praise coming from the owner whose team plays in the extravagant AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
  • Jones also said that he had never been in an NFL meeting where so many people voted for what a committee didn’t recommend, says Peter King of TheMMQB.com. One source tells King that the key to the vote was changing from public to secret ballots — the support for the Carson plan “evaporated in a flash” at that point. “The surprise of the day was getting the 21 votes right off the bat,” a source said. “That set the tone. This is the league’s biggest asset, and it’s significant that they awarded it to Stan. They trust him.”
  • A high-ranking club source tells King that the quality of Kroenke’s proposal and the amenities the stadium will feature will major factors — the inclusion of a new campus for NFL media helped sway many owners to the Inglewood plan.
  • The NFL’s move back to Los Angeles was a long time coming, but to see why the league’s owners were willing to go all-in on Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium plan, one just needs to follow the money, writes Andrew Brandt of TheMMQB.com.
  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if Kroenke will want to share the Los Angeles market with another team, or if he’ll play hardball in an effort to keep it for himself.