The Raiders and Chargers were close partners while pitching a Carson stadium proposal ultimately shot down by NFL ownership. They legally split after the Rams’ Inglewood stadium project was considered best for Los Angeles, but the Silver and Black kept their unpatched eye on what the Bolts would do next.
That’s because of L.A.’s second-team succession plan. The Chargers were given first option to join the Rams in Inglewood with the Raiders next in line.
The pecking order remains, even after the Chargers agreed in principle to join the Rams’ Inglewood project on Friday. Why? They didn’t immediately exercise their L.A. option, and will remain in San Diego for 2016.
The option remains available to Chargers owner Dean Spanos through Jan. 2017 – it could get extended another year if certain parameters are met – as he tries to work out a deal to stay in San Diego.
What does that mean for the Raiders? It temporarily closes two markets they favor most outside of Oakland.
Owner Mark Davis obviously covets a chance to reap financial windfall of an L.A. move, and a tenant relationship in Inglewood would allow him to join the Rams without needing oodles of cash to do it.
As a side note, the Raiders were already approved for an Inglewood move during a Jan. 12 NFL owners meeting that decided the Rams’ fate and set up the Chargers/Raiders succession plan. If the Chargers formally decline Inglewood, the Raiders are free to move there. It seems likely they would jump at L.A. if it became available.
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In recent weeks, multiple sources have said the Raiders would be interested in San Diego should the Chargers leave town.
Right now, the Chargers lay claim to both of those markets. They’re in San Diego, and retain priority in L.A.
That keeps the Raiders firmly in limbo and increases an already high likelihood they remain in Oakland another year. A source told CSN California on Thursday the Raiders have started discussions on a short-term lease to play at O.co Coliseum in 2016. While that deal isn’t done, a short-term stay in Oakland makes the most sense for the Raiders.
They would be a free agent again next offseason – the only one on the market -- when the Chargers are expected to decide where to play permanently. That, and the possibility of taking whichever market the Chargers decline, should keep pressure on Oakland to work a stadium deal that permanently keeps the Raiders in the East Bay.
Davis has also explored San Antonio, but it still seems like an unlikely option given his preference to remain in the West.
He was in Las Vegas on Friday, meeting with Las Vegas heavyweights about a stadium proposal in that market. While that may be an attractive landing spot, Las Vegas seems like a pipe dream given Nevada’s sports gambling industry and the NFL’s aversion to it.
The Raiders will continue exploring their stadium options, but will likely wait another year and see what the Chargers finally decide to do. They could still pounce on L.A. or San Diego, but it won’t happen right away.
In sum, the Raiders’ options haven’t changed. They’ve just been delayed.