As the Raiders came together to begin preparing for the upcoming season Monday, many of the questions focused further down the road – on the team’s imminent relocation to Las Vegas.
NFL owners last month voted 31-1 to approve the Raiders moving to Las Vegas by 2020. For now, the team remains in Oakland, where it will play this season with one proverbial foot already out the door.
“It just feels weird right now,” linebacker Khalil Mack said Monday, after the Raiders started their offseason workout program.
The feeling is likely mutual for fans. Mack said he has been approached by fans in the Bay Area who have expressed a common sentiment.
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“It’s always kind of like, ‘Man, just win now,’ ” Mack said. “They’re thinking like the players now. ‘Man, just win now.’ That’s all we want to do, because you don’t know what’s going to happen down the line. You don’t know who’s going to be where. The team we have now, we want to focus on winning now.”
The Raiders went 12-4 last season but lost quarterback Derek Carr in Week 16 to a leg injury and bowed out of the AFC playoffs in the wild-card round. Carr said Monday he doesn’t expect a different atmosphere at the Coliseum this season, and that the reaction he has heard from local fans has been mostly supportive.
“It’s just, ‘Hey, we’re going with you,’ ” Carr said. “ ‘We’re Raiders.’
“We’re not going to split up like you’ve seen other cities do. We’re not going to do things like that. For the ones that do, I don’t really believe that they are true Raider fans. I feel their hurt, I’m with you. I hurt, too. But at the same time we’re all in this together, we’re going to do it together.”
Carr said the attitude of the team is that, “We still have some good years ahead of us here. And I think our fans are excited about that.”
The Raiders have an option to play at the Coliseum in 2018 that they’re expected to use. They may need to find a temporary home for the 2019 season with their new Las Vegas stadium not expected to open until 2020.
Carr said fans in Nevada “should be really excited” about the Raiders’ imminent arrival.
“I think it’s going to be another show,” he said. “Hopefully it’ll turn into the hottest one.”
Et cetera – Several players Monday said they would welcome Marshawn Lynch if the running back decides to come out of retirement to play for the Raiders. The Raiders lost last year’s feature back, Latavius Murray, to free agency over the offseason.
“It’d be a great, great, great, great treat to have him on this side, the dark side,” Mack said of Lynch, who last played in the NFL with Seattle in 2015. “But we’re still focused on the now. Can’t really control what happens with that.”
▪ Mack said winning the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time was “the motivation I needed this offseason.” He credited Raiders coaches and teammates with helping him secure the award, which he claimed by one vote over Denver’s Von Miller.
“It wasn’t just me,” Mack said. “So it was a big deal, and I’m grateful.”
After telling reporters following the 2015 season that he’d taken just one day off before resuming workouts, Mack was asked Monday if he’d rested since January.
“I squeezed in two (days off) this year,” he said. “My mom made me.”
▪ The Raiders announced they re-signed four players in free agency – Denico Autry, a restricted free agent, and exclusive rights free agents Gabe Holmes, Denver Kirkland and Seth Roberts.