Not quite yet. The cornerstones of the Raiders still belong to Oakland. But the franchise officially told the NFL world what has been abundantly clear beneath the surface -- the Raiders are willing to go anywhere they can get a new stadium, even if it means teaming with one of their mortal enemies.
In an unexpected announcement, the San Diego Chargers and Raiders issued a joint statement (it came first from the Chargers, though) late Thursday night, saying they have collaborated on a proposal to build a privately financed, $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, California, that the teams would share if they relocate to the Los Angeles area. In the statement, both teams said they are committed through this season to getting a new stadium in their current cities.
This is all elaborate posturing until further notice. We all know both teams are unhappy in their stadiums. Both teams have complained for years. Stadium news truly doesn’t become news until proposals become concrete. We’re far from that point.
However, this development is noteworthy because the Raiders have a plan that would move them out of Oakland. We have moved beyond the point of complaining about the pitiful stadium situation in that city.
If the cities of Oakland and San Diego are truly on the clock until the end of the year, there might be some trouble. But there’s too much involved here to make it that simple.
I will say this: I highly doubt Oakland can figure out by the end of this year a happy solution to keep the Raiders. It would be one of the greatest comebacks in Oakland Raiders' history. So, if team owner Mark Davis is serious and he drops Oakland as an option when the calendar flips to Jan. 1, 2016 -- then sure, see ya, Raiders.
But again, there are a lot of logistics to go through.
More than anything, Thursday’s joint announcement was a loud message. It was a message to Oakland, San Diego, the NFL and to the St. Louis Rams. The city of St. Louis also has its own proposal, and the Rams have a deep-pocketed owner in Stan Kroenke. He wants Los Angeles. St. Louis wants a team. Proposals abound with the Rams.
The Raiders and Chargers wanted to get in the picture and remind everyone -- first and foremost, the NFL -- that they want in, too. This is still a race that is in the early stages.
But the Raiders just told everyone they plan on participating in the chase until they get a stadium -- somewhere.
The Raiders are so serious, they would be willing to break tradition. If sharing a beautiful new cash cow of a stadium in L.A. with the Chargers means they will have to move to the NFC West, the Raiders probably would.
But this isn’t about tradition. This is about business and survival. If anything, this proposal is proof the Raiders mean business -- they will play anywhere and partner with anyone. Now, we just have to see if it goes anywhere.