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What’s going on with the Raiders’ move to Vegas? – Las Vegas Raiders Blog

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ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Las Vegas Raiders are in the ultimate hurry-up-and-wait mode. Sure, they officially rebranded themselves with a renaming ceremony in the shadow of Allegiant Stadium on Jan. 22. And plans were for the team to hold its draft, rookie minicamp and OTAs at its Alameda facility before holding mandatory minicamp June 16-18 at the team’s new facility in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas.

Training camp would have been in Napa, California, with the Raiders making the final move to southern Nevada upon the breaking of camp. But now, with the coronavirus pandemic shutting down the nation for the past two-plus months, and with the Raiders still straddling two different states and, thus, two sets of health regulations to follow, more questions than answers have flowed regarding the team’s plans. We attempt to answer some here …

What’s the latest on the team’s move?

It’s still full steam ahead, or have you not noticed the NFL carrying on with its virtual draft and the schedule release? Whether it’s whistling by the graveyard or giving fans a sense of normalcy and routine in uncertain times, the league and the team plan on playing in $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium, which will also serve as the home of UNLV football (the Raiders will play on a grass field that will slide in and out of the dome on a tray while the Rebels will play on artificial turf).

Now, whether the Raiders play in front of a full house of 65,000 fans in brand-new seats or social distancing guidelines mean there are far fewer or even no fans at all, will be decided as we get closer to the season. Besides, the Raiders already turned down their $10 million option to return to the Oakland Coliseum for one final (we really mean it this time) season, so it’s Las Vegas or bust, right? The team has already started to slowly pack up its Alameda facility and moving trucks have begun making the drive to the desert.

What if Allegiant Stadium is not ready?

Glad you asked. Surely, there are contingency plans in place should the team’s version of the unthinkable happen. But no one is talking about that, at least, not on the record. And you just know that Raiders owner Mark Davis, given the opportunity and need, would love the opportunity to play in San Diego, abandoned by the Chargers in their quest for the Los Angeles market. The Raiders are unbelievably popular in San Diego, but it is hard to see the Chargers and Rams allowing a Raiders residency in Southern California, no matter how short it might be.

The irony is in the reports stating that if SoFi Stadium in Inglewood is not ready, or if the state of California is still shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rams and Chargers might need to play in Las Vegas. And the site where SoFi is going up is exactly where the late Al Davis planned on building his own stadium for the then-Los Angeles Raiders back in 1994.

Alas … Arizona? That might make geographical sense and there are no schedule conflicts with the Cardinals over the first four regular-season games (again, if the pandemic fades and games are indeed played).

Really, the most sensible option would be UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium, in a pinch. Especially if no fans are allowed, because the main issue with the erstwhile Silver Bowl in this scenario, besides antiquated locker rooms, is the lack of a true security perimeter around the grounds of the near 49-year-old facility. No fans, no need for extra security, right?

How’s the stadium coming along?

Construction was deemed essential at the onset of the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders. Despite cases of coronavirus hitting workers, building continued. The translucent roof is on. The lanai doors that open to the north and the Las Vegas Strip are up. Grass and artificial turf are being laid. Seats are being installed. The grounds are being prepped with trees. Signage has been hung. And the Al Davis memorial torch, on the concourse by the lanai doors, is being prepared. Indeed, barring an unforeseen delay, the Raiders fully expect the stadium to open on time (their preseason home opener is scheduled for Aug. 27, with their regular-season home opener on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Sept. 21 against the Saints).

What about training camp?

Honestly, not even the Raiders know where it will be … yet. Yes, they still have their “reservation” at the Napa Valley Marriott in wine country, which is one of the best training camp setups in the NFL. But if the pandemic renders practicing in this part of California untenable, they will hold camp at their new Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center in Henderson. It is still technically under construction, but the Raiders do have their “certificate of occupancy” for the building, so they can begin moving in.

Given that the team was unable to hold any live events in Alameda and is already moving equipment to southern Nevada, it seems as though the Raiders are leaning toward holding camp in Henderson. While that might take away that certain “camp” feeling, it would enable the Raiders to get used to their new digs that much quicker. A decision could come as soon as this week. Stay tuned.

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RB Raheem Mostert requests trade from 49ers, agent says

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Running back Raheem Mostert is requesting a trade from the San Francisco 49ers, his agent announced Wednesday.

Agent Brett Tessler tweeted that the trade request comes after “months of unproductive talks” with the 49ers on adjusting his contract.

“After months of unproductive talks with the 49ers about fairly adjusting Raheem Mostert’s contract (which paid him for special teams) we have requested a trade. Disappointing that it would come to this for a guy who led all NFL RBs in YPC & helped lead them to the Super Bowl,” he wrote.

Earlier this offseason, the 49ers traded running back Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins. The other running backs on the team’s roster include Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson and Jerick McKinnon, who hasn’t played in two seasons because of knee injuries.

Mostert is scheduled to be paid a base salary of $2.575 million this season and is due $2.875 million in 2021 as part of a three-year contract he signed with the 49ers last year. Based on average annual value, Mostert is the 49ers’ fourth-highest-paid running back, behind McKinnon ($7.5 million), fullback Kyle Juszczyk ($5.25 million) and Coleman ($4.25 million).

Mostert led the 49ers with 772 rushing yards last season and scored 10 touchdowns (8 rushing, 2 receiving). In three playoff games, he rushed for 336 yards with five touchdowns. He set a 49ers franchise record with 220 rushing yards in his team’s 37-20 NFC Championship Game victory over the Green Bay Packers.

He led the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns from Week 12 through the end of the 2019 postseason. His 760 rushing yards over that span were the second most in the league, trailing only the Tennessee TitansDerrick Henry, who had 1,154.



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Amazon to pull Redskins merchandise while team mulls nickname change

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Amazon on Wednesday became the latest company to announce it would be removing Washington Redskins merchandise for sale while the team considers a name change.

“With the announcement from the Washington team and the NFL, we are removing products with the team’s name and logo from our stores,” a spokesperson told CNBC. “Failure to properly close or delete all restricted product listings from your inventory may result in deactivation.”

CNBC reported that sellers on Amazon were given 48 hours to remove Redskins merchandise.

Amazon joins Nike, Walmart, Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods among companies to remove Redskins merchandise for sale online while the team reviews its nickname.

Redskins merchandise remains for sale on Fanatics.com and NFLShop.com, the Sports Business Journal reported Wednesday, citing company spokespersons.

The Redskins announced on Friday they will “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name” amid renewed pressure. ESPN’s Adam Schefter previously reported that a change of the nickname is now considered likely, and citing a source, Schefter reported Wednesday that in discussions about the nickname, Washington is planning to have no Native American imagery.

Team owner Dan Snyder has been under more pressure in recent weeks to change the name given the social climate in the United States following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. He had shown no willingness to change the name since buying the team in 1999.

FedEx, which has naming rights to the team’s stadium under a $205 million deal that runs until 2025, was among several sponsors to request that the team change the name last week.

Several Native American leaders and organizations sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday calling for the league to force Snyder to change the team name immediately.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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What shareholders looking to sell means for Dan Snyder, Redskins – Washington Redskins Blog

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The Washington Redskins likely will have a new name and minority shareholders in the franchise at some point in the near future. Two days after the team announced it would strongly review its name, multiple reports stated the team’s three minority shareholders — Dwight Schar, Bob Rothman and Fred Smith — are looking to sell after 17 years and have hired an investment banking firm to help.

That, of course, leads to more questions about a franchise that has faced a great deal of scrutiny in recent years under owner Dan Snyder.

What impact does this have on Snyder?

Two days after the 2003 season ended, when the Redskins needed another coach, Schar made a phone call. To Joe Gibbs. It set in motion a series of events that led to the bombshell return of Gibbs as coach.

While Snyder eventually closed the deal, it was Schar who made the first call to his longtime friend in an aggressive early pursuit. Schar was on the board of Gibbs’ Youth for Tomorrow Foundation, and the two had a strong relationship.

That was an unusual situation, but the impact will come mostly at a personal level. In the past 10 months, the organization hierarchy has changed quite a bit: Several trusted employees, including president Bruce Allen and senior vice president of football operations/general counsel Eric Schaffer, are gone. So, too, is Redskins senior vice president of communications Tony Wyllie and athletic trainer Larry Hess. They all knew Snyder well. They knew he was a demanding owner, with late-night calls and expectations to alter plans at the last minute.

Hess (18 years), Schaffer (17), Allen (10) and Wyllie (10) combined for 55 years of experience under Snyder.

But Snyder still had his group of minority investors that he considered friends. Smith, the chairman and CEO of FedEx, was not a regular at games, home or away, but Schar and Rothman often attended (Rothman, the chairman and CEO of Black Diamond Capital, was at just about every game). They became tight with Snyder and, one source said, served as a calming influence after games. Snyder would hang out in the owner’s box after games, sometimes pacing, depending on the result. He could get lost in the minutiae of the moment, but the others could present a big-picture focus, a source said.

One source said Schar, chairman of NVR, the the nation’s fifth-largest home builder, “couldn’t be more down to earth but also had common sense brilliance to him, and Fred is the same.” Both provided strong guidance when needed and business wisdom for Snyder over the years. One source said Snyder almost idolized Smith, especially for his business acumen in how he built FedEx. As one person said, “This had to sting [Snyder].”

Will they have trouble finding new investors?

Late last season, during the team’s search for a new coach, one refrain stood out: There are only 32 teams. In other words, someone would want the job because the NFL is a fraternity few can join. One person who used to work for Snyder provided the same answer when asked about finding more investors.

But it certainly won’t be easy.

When this trio invested in the Redskins in 2003, it cost them a combined $200 million initially for a 20% stake. In July 2019, Forbes listed the franchise value at $3.1 billion. If that’s the case, replacing the group’s 40% stake with three other investors would require a pay-in of about $400 million apiece. That’s a hefty fee, which might force Washington to seek a lot more investors. Snyder could recruit a number of people or celebrities in his orbit. In 2015, NBA star Kevin Durant, who grew up in the shadows of FedEx Field and is a big Redskins fan, told the ESPN Fantasy Football Podcast that “[Owning a team] would be cool. My first priority would be the Washington Redskins, but I, even if it’s a small percentage, man, I just want to be involved.”

Any new part-owner would have to be approved by three-quarters of the NFL owners.

If the team changes its name and moves back into the District with a new stadium in 2028, it would increase the value of the franchise. That could tempt investors. Snyder has been able to convince others to join him in the past, whether it’s coaches or smart businessmen such as Smith, Schar and Rothman. With a new name, it might remove one obstacle for potential investors.

Also, despite a string of failures in recent years, the franchise remains valuable. Washington has posted one 10-win season over the past decade and hasn’t won a playoff game in 15 years. It had the third-lowest percentage of home attendance in the NFL last season. Yet, the Redskins ranked 14th on the Forbes list of the top 50 most valuable sports teams a year ago. They were fifth among NFL teams.

And, while some wonder about what it means for Snyder’s ownership, another person who knows him well says he’d have a hard time ever seeing Snyder sell the franchise — even if it could command a price tag of $4 billion.

“It’s his identity,” the source said. “That’s a big, big deal.”

What impact do minority owners have?

In many cases, minority owners get some of the perks but don’t have to worry about the responsibility of ownership. There’s no real day-to-day impact. Often it’s about being part of a club without the headaches. They can fly in for games, get escorted to the stadium, watch the game and then go home.

But with only a combined 40 percent share — Snyder, his mother and his sister own 60 percent of the team — they don’t have voting power and don’t always have a say in team matters. Snyder’s inner circle has changed, and often he receives guidance from outside sources. However, while Schar had a big influence in landing Gibbs, Rothman was a key part of the interview process in luring current coach Ron Rivera, according to a source. He also was at the scouting combine with Rivera and Snyder earlier this offseason, prompting one person close to the situation to express surprise that Rothman would want to sell.

Snyder needed this trio for their money. When they bought in 17 years ago, Snyder used their $200 million to pay down debt, taking it from $450 million to about $250 million.

Why now?

There’s no explanation yet as to the timing of why they want to sell their shares, if all three do sell. Multiple sources said they did not think it had to do with the team name, though Pro Football Talk reported that Smith had been trying to convince Snyder for several years to change the name. Indeed, FedEx put out a statement on Thursday saying it had asked the franchise to do so — one day before Washington announced it would seriously reconsider the name. If Smith did want the name changed, and Snyder appears headed down that path, it wouldn’t make sense for that to be the reason.

Another source said that one of the minority owners — believed to be Schar — is looking to retire. He’s 78 years old.

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