As soon as Monday, NFL owners are expected to vote to allow the Raiders to move from Oakland to Las Vegas.
But, even should that vote occur, the Raiders still plan to play in Oakland in 2017 and 2018 at least, says owner Mark Davis, while an NFL stadium is constructed in Las Vegas.
The goal for Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, meanwhile, is to keep his players focused on the field, not what’s going on off it. He wants to minimize what could be an enormous distraction. With additions in free agency already, and more new players to come in the NFL draft that begins April 27, there are high hopes the Raiders can improve on their breakthrough season of 2016 when they finished 12-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season.
“My job is to make sure that everybody understands their defined role and that they’re all doing everything they can to execute that role,” Del Rio said Sunday on the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” show. “Right now, that’s the here and now, playing really good football in Oakland. We’ll need to worry about it and we’ll need to address it but we know we have a season in Oakland for sure, maybe more. So for me, as the head coach, my job, it really won’t change a whole lot.”
With the growth of young quarterback Derek Carr and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, the Raiders have a foundation of talent that could produce a Super Bowl team if all the elements fall together. That could make it possible for the Raiders to win an AFC title – or more – before they leave the Bay Area.
Estimates are the stadium in Las Vegas won’t be ready until 2020. The team could move before that to play at a temporary venue, however.