Three months ago, Roger Goodell helped facilitate the Rams' move back to Los Angeles that left the Raiders as the odd team out, headed back to the negotiating table in Oakland. The Chargers were sent back to San Diego, but with an option to join the Rams in Los Angeles -- one they delayed to next year.
Not long after returning to Oakland, Mark Davis was in Las Vegas looking at a potential stadium site. At the time it suggested any negotiations with the city of Oakland were not going well. At the owner's meetings this week, Davis confirmed just that, saying "There's nothing we can do. We are in a holding pattern."
Davis would like to get a deal done in Oakland. He has for quite some time. But with no progress being made, he was ready to pick up and leave for Los Angeles until shut down by the majority of the other 31 owners.
As part of the agreement that put the Rams in LA and gave the Chargers the option to make the jump as well, the Raiders would get the leftovers should the Chargers get a deal to stay in San Diego. Should they not get something done and head to LA either in 2017 or 2018, the Raiders will either hope to have a stadium in the works in Oakland, or have alternative cities lined up to land them.
Taking over San Diego has been tossed about as an option and San Antonio Texas has been explored as well. But as you might expect, none are more controversial than Vegas, baby.
Davis was asked if Las Vegas would maximize the Raiders brand, to which he responded "I think the Raiders would maximize Las Vegas."
A rogue city for the most rogue of sports franchises. It's a possiblity that Roger Goodell would rather not have to consider.
"Mark Davis is appropriately looking at all of his alternatives," said Goodell of Raiders potential bid to move to Las Vegas. "We were very open about that when we were in Houston (at the owners meetings) and we made the decision to return the Rams to Los Angeles. Both for San Diego and Oakland. They need to evaluate those alternatives. I think their ultimate decision is a long ways off. There are several cities that have a tremendous interest in the Raiders. I'm hopeful also that Oakland will be one of those and that we can avoid any relocation to start with. Those are ultimately decisions about where they go and the impact that the potential gambling that we'd have to deal with. We'd have to understand it, we'd have to understand what the impact is on us and ultimately each owner would have a vote on that."
"Relocations are always, as you know and we experienced it this January: one, painful, but two, subject to 32 teams' view about it. They each make their own decision on that. That would be a factor that I think many owners would have to balance, the league would have to balance, but until we got a hard proposal that really put that in front of us, we'd have to understand what the ramifications of that are."
With the way the NFL has long viewed Las Vegas, it seems incredibly unlikely the Raiders would be allowed to make this move. Goodell says it would be up to the 32 owners, but if there is anything we discovered through the LA relocation process, it's that what Goodell wants, Goodell gets. And he doesn't want the Raiders in Las Vegas. The owners may not want it either, so it may not even matter.
The tricky part is if Goodell just came out and said there was no way the NFL would approve the move, he would be undercutting Davis (again) who needs as many potential relocation cities as he can get to leverage Oakland to stop sitting on their hands.
Los Angeles is still leverage until it's officially not. If the Chargers join the Rams, it will be officially off the table. Staying in Oakland is also a possibility until it's officially not. At which point, for Goodell, the idea of San Diego or San Antonio would sure look like nice alternatives to Las Vegas.
Davis has downplayed how serious a player Las Vegas is among their potential relocation cities. Then again, desperate times call for desperate measures. Insert obligatory gambling metaphor.