Agents say Las Vegas a favorable destination for NFL free agents

You’re a 27-year-old NFL free-agent wide receiver who grew up in rural Georgia. The phone rings. It’s your agent telling you the Raiders are interested in signing you.

The Las Vegas Raiders.

You’ve visited Vegas before. Had a good time. Nearly too good one night. But you didn’t quite make it on TMZ. Now, you’re considering living there for the next four or five years.

If Steve Caric or Steve Baker is your agent, you’re taking the deal and moving to Nevada.

“Several reasons,” said Caric, who is based in Las Vegas and represents 16 NFL players. “First, you’re going to make more money, and you’re going to get to keep more. Nevada has no state income tax, and that’s very important. You’ll find the housing is affordable, there are some very good schools for your children to attend. The airport is conveniently located, and you can get to almost anywhere from Las Vegas.

“The other important reason is you want to go somewhere where you can win. The Raiders are very good. They have a great front office and superstar players on both offense and defense that you’d want to play with. Until (quarterback) Derek Carr got hurt late in the season, they were looking like a team that could make a Super Bowl run.”

Baker, an agent from the Bay Area who has represented 20 Raiders and San Francisco 49ers players over the past 20 years, said players want to go where they have an opportunity to play and a chance to win.

“The quality of the team and the organization is probably the most important thing,” Baker said. “The Raiders have become one of the premier organizations in the NFL, and Las Vegas is a very desirable place to live. It’s much more than gambling and the Strip.”

Players also want to know about the quality of a team’s training facilities. The Raiders plan to check that box and build a facility that figures to have the best of everything. Whether it’s the weight and strength area, a lounge and cafeteria, the meeting rooms and sports medicine area, a free agent looking at Las Vegas will find a favorable situation.

“The Raiders have always been a players’ organization,” Caric said. “You know they will provide the best amenities possible at their facility.”

And there’s the stadium itself, which will seat 65,000 and have a roof to keep out the intense triple-digit heat.

The Golden Knights, the city’s NHL expansion team that begins play this fall, will be using the same playbook when they begin pursuing free agents this summer. No state income tax. Great weather. Affordable housing. Good schools. Proximity to McCarran International Airport.

“Those all come into play,” Caric said. “You want to live somewhere nice where your family feels safe and welcome. Las Vegas provides that.”

What the Knights can’t yet offer is tradition, while the Raiders long have been an internationally known brand. Every NFL player grew up knowing of the Raiders’ mystique and reputation. And with the team winning again, it becomes a powerful recruiting tool.

Some might view the Strip as an infamous place to party and perhaps court trouble, but Baker said there are other NFL cities with similar temptations.

“It’s probably no different than South Beach (in Miami) or New York,” Baker said. “The positive about Las Vegas is it’s a very exciting place for a player to live. The negative about Las Vegas is it’s a very exciting place for a player to live.”

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

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