The Raiders are officially staying in Oakland, at least for one more year. The team announced Thursday that it has agreed to a one-year lease with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority.
The lease will keep the Raiders in Oakland through the end of the 2016 season.
The Raiders have been playing at O.co Coliseum under a series of one-year leases since the end of the 2012 season. However, under the new lease, there will be a slight change to what the Raiders have signed in the past.
The new lease includes two one-year options for the Raiders, which means the team could conceivably stay in Oakland through the end of the 2018 season.
Raiders owner Mark Davis agreed to the two option years in hopes of getting a stadium deal done in Oakland.
"It gives us an opportunity to work on a permanent facility here in Oakland," Davis said.
The Raiders also have the option of leaving town after 2016 if a better deal comes along in another city.
Here are three things to know about the future of the Raiders.
How serious are the Raiders about staying in Oakland?
Davis has been saying for years that he wants to keep the team in Oakland, and he reiterated that fact Thursday. "I don't think I've ever once said that I wasn't interested in staying in Oakland," Davis said. "My heart is here in Oakland."
That raises a big question: If Davis wants to stay in Oakland, then why has he been exploring other options?
"If people are going to call you and offer you things to look at, you have to look at them, as a business person," Davis said.
The Raiders did make one bold move Thursday to prove they're serious about staying in Oakland: adding Larry MacNeil to their stadium development team. MacNeil previously worked for the 49ers and was "responsible for the development of Levi's Stadium," according to the team's website. Getting a stadium built in California isn't easy, so the fact that the Raiders added someone who has already done it is a small step forward.
The biggest problem in Oakland right now is financing a new stadium, which is something the Raiders and city will have to figure out over the next year. According to Davis, both the Raiders and the NFL would be able to contribute $300 million to the cost of the stadium, which means the city of Oakland would have to come up with the rest.
The city has no interest in using public money, which is why the two sides have been at an impasse for so long. Davis has previously said that he would be fine with a smaller stadium that would cost $800 million to $1 billion overall, which means the team would need between $200 million to $400 million in public funds.
The fact that the Raiders agreed to a lease that includes two option years is a good sign for Oakland, because it means that the team is serious about getting this thing figured out.
On the other hand, there's also the strong possibility that Davis added the two Raider-friendly option years because that puts him in the best position in regards to future relocation, which takes us to our next point.
Will the Raiders move after the 2016 season?
If the Raiders do move after the 2016 season, the most likely destination would be Los Angeles. It's pretty much a guarantee that Davis would pounce on the opportunity to move to Los Angeles if it arises. However, Davis has no control over that.
The Chargers have until Jan. 15, 2017, to decide if they're going to stay in San Diego or move to L.A. If the the Chargers end up staying in San Diego permanently, you can bet the Raiders will pack their bags quickly for L.A. and rip up those final two option years with Oakland.
On the other hand, if the Chargers decide to move to L.A., that will leave the Raiders in a quandary. The city of San Diego is expected to hold a public vote in November that could potentially end with a new stadium being built if the referendum passes. If that happens and the Chargers still move, then the Raiders would likely jump at the chance to go to San Diego.
Basically, unless the city of Oakland comes through with a Hail Mary stadium plan, it's extremely unlikely that the Raiders will remain in Oakland.
Are there any other cities in play for the Raiders besides L.A. or San Diego?
As crazy as it sounds, Las Vegas might be the wild-card option. If a stadium deal can't be worked out in Oakland and the Raiders have to move, they would likely want to be in Los Angeles or San Diego. However, if the Chargers move to L.A., then that is out.
On top of that, if San Diego voters don't approve funding for a new stadium, then moving there wouldn't make any sense because the Raiders would be stuck in the same situation that they're currently in with Oakland: They would have an old stadium with no plans to build a new one.
At that point, Davis might look to Las Vegas. It's a longshot, and this likely wouldn't happen until 2018 at the earliest, but don't rule it out. Davis has explored the site, which sits less than a mile away from all the riches of the strip.
The NFL probably wouldn't get in the Raiders' way, either. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that it's up to the owners.
"Ultimately, it's the ownership's decision," Goodell said. "It requires 24 of the 32 owners to approve any relocation to any market."
On the other hand, if the NFL does shoot down Vegas, there's always San Antonio.