The Oakland Raiders will exist for at least one more season, and maybe another two to three seasons, thanks to a stadium lease with single-year options tacked onto the end of it. But they are bound for Las Vegas by 2020, if not sooner, and the city of Oakland and Raiders fans are the big losers in all of this.

But the biggest winner is someone you wouldn’t expect: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. 

That’s because Jones, who by all accounts pulled the strings in perfect puppetmaster fashion on a third NFL relocation in the past 14 months, has been promoting the Raiders’ move to Vegas for months now. And that’s because the move to Vegas makes Jones some serious cash in an indirect way.

Jones’ windfall move will come, as noted by Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News in an excellent breakdown here, through the marketing company he co-owns with George Steinbrenner’s family.

That company, Legends, is raking in cash on marketing the new stadiums for NFL teams. 

Oh, and by the way, Jones owns a major chunk of Legends, a hospitality-marketing company that will now sell the suites and sponsorships for the Las Vegas stadium (with potentially the largest naming-rights deal ever), is selling them for the Rams and Chargers in LA, and sold out the suites and sponsorships for Levi’s.

Jones doesn’t deny this either.

“Legends is important,” Jones told Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after the Raiders deal. “They need Legends to sell.”

Jones knows how important it is, making sure that the Vegas deal happened even after casino magnate Sheldon Adelson backed out of helping to finance the stadium by bringing in Bank of America to finance the deal. (Adelson claimed he was having his “pocket picked” in the deal when he bailed.) Both Hill and Kawakami note it was Jones behind the BOA move. 

That loan from Bank of America is probably pretty hefty, but as Kawakami notes, having Jones as a guarantor of sorts certainly helps matters.

This is going to result in a large annual debt-service payment for Mark Davis, and it’s a number that many around the league aren’t sure he can muster… if the suites and PSLs don’t come in strongly. But, of course, Jones’ company is in charge of a lot of that.

What’s guaranteeing that loan? It’s the power and heft of the NFL, and right now, that’s Jones.

None of this even gets into the more than $50 million Jones -- and every other NFL owner -- will pocket as a result of the Raiders, Rams and Chargers relocation fees. 

The No. 1 rule of thumb when it comes to the NFL is to always “follow the money.” In this case the cash leads right up the strings of relocation and into the hands of Jerry Jones.