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Raiders to San Diego in 2019? Three things to know about the team's odd situation

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 12/12/2018 John Breech
a man wearing a uniform standing in front of a crowd © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

In less than two weeks, the NFL is going to have an awkward situation on its hands, and that's because the Raiders are officially going to be homeless. 

The Raiders' lease with city of Oakland expires after the season, which means the Raiders might need to start looking for a new city to play in after their home finale against the Broncos on Christmas Eve. Although the Raiders have known all year that their lease would be expiring at the end of the 2018, no one seems to know where they're going to play next. 

So how did we get to this spot of total chaos, where an NFL team might be homeless? 

Great question. 

Here's three things to know about the Raiders' odd situation. 

1. The situation in Oakland

One of the reasons the Raiders don't have a place to play in 2019 is because they thought they'd be playing in Oakland. Raiders owner Mark Davis has said on multiple occasions that he wants to play in Oakland next season, but that all changed this week when the city decided to file a federal lawsuit against the Raiders

When news of the lawsuit first came out in September, the Raiders made it clear that they would move in 2019 if the city pulled the trigger and ended up filing it. Well, the city called the Raiders' bluff on Tuesday and ended up filing the suit. Although the city isn't attempting to block the move, the city is seeking millions of dollars from the Raiders over the team's decision to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas. 

"The City Attorney recommended and the Oakland City Council authorized filing the lawsuit to recover damages resulting from the Raiders' illegal move to Las Vegas, including lost revenue, money that Oakland taxpayers invested in the Raiders and other costs," the City Attorney's office said in a statement about the lawsuit. 

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Davis' biggest issue with staying in Oakland is that he would be paying rent at the Coliseum, which wouldn't be good for him, because the city could turn around and use his rent money to help fund the lawsuit. 

"Emotionally, I don't want to pay for my own lawsuit," Davis said at the NFL winter meetings on Wednesday. However, Davis did leave the door slightly open for a potential return to Oakland, because, "for the fans, it's something that I've got to think about." 

With the relationship between Oakland and the Raiders getting uglier by the day -- remember, this will be the second time they've ditched the city -- it's starting to look like a breakup could be inevitable, which brings us to our second question. 

2. Where will the Raiders play if Oakland falls through?

If things don't work out in Oakland, the Raiders are going to have a bunch of options on the table. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported in September that the Raiders have had "very preliminary" discussions with the city of San Diego. Davis was asked on Wednesday if San Diego might be an option and he didn't rule it out.  

"All options are open," Davis said. "Not ruling anything out."

Of course, that could get a little awkward because if the Raiders fill up the stadium in San Diego in 2019, people might start wondering why the NFL ever let a team leave the city. It could also get awkward because the Raiders will be hosting the Chargers next season. Speaking of the Chargers, La Canfora also noted that a potential move to San Diego for the Raiders would likely face some serious resistance from both the Chargers and Rams

If San Diego doesn't work out, another option could be Levi's Stadium. Although the subject hasn't come up recently, 49ers CEO Jed York did say in March 2017 that he would potentially be open to hosting the Raiders for a year. 

"I think [Mark Davis] said pretty clearly that he'd like to stay in Oakland and he'd certainly like to stay in the East Bay, and we'd want to be helpful with him in that," York said at the time. "If [sharing Levi's] was an opportunity, we'd certainly sit down and discuss it, but I think there are a lot of moving pieces right now that it's really conjecture to talk about 2019 at this point, when they'd still, obviously, prefer to be at the Coliseum."

The one issue here is that Davis absolutely loathes the idea of playing in Levi's Stadium. The Raiders owner has said that on multiple occasions and likely wouldn't play there unless it was an absolute last resort. 

According to ESPN.com, other possibilities include Reno, Nevada, Las Vegas and Glendale, Arizona. However, don't look for Sin City to happen and that's because the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in October that Vegas has been ruled out because Sam Boyd Stadium isn't up to NFL standards.  

A few other options for the Raiders could be St. Louis, Portland or Seattle, according to NFL reporter Jason Cole, who spoke with a high-ranking Raiders official this week. San Antonio was also viewed as a potential option, but Davis basically ruled that out on Wednesday when he said he doesn't like the turf there.  

If you're scoring at home, that's a total of six viable options -- San Diego, Reno, Phoenix, St. Louis, Portland, Seattle -- plus maybe San Antonio if they can get their turf situation figured out. 

The Raiders could also just go crazy and play each home game in a different city. The logistics of this would be a nightmare, but fans would probably love it. 

Although we don't know where the Raiders will be playing seven of their regular-season home games in 2019, we do know where they'll be playing one of them. The NFL announced Wednesday that the Raiders will be hosting an international game in 2019, which could be played in London or Mexico City. 

3. What's the deadline for the Raiders' decision?

As you've probably noticed, there's a lot of information to digest here, and the Raiders now have less than two months to digest it. When asked about a potential deadline for the Raiders to pick a city, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Wednesday that they're going to have to have things figured out by early February at the latest. 

"It's simply about trying to make the schedule," Goodell said. "I know Mark has expressed that he would like to be in Oakland. We need to do that for schedule purposes, that's really the timing, so obviously early January or February."

If you don't have a calendar in front of you, that means the Raiders will likely be announcing their decision sometime around Super Bowl LIII, which is being played on Feb. 3 in Atlanta. Ironically enough, that might be the only city in the country that the Raiders aren't considering in 2019.  

The only silver lining in all of this for the Raiders is that they know where they'll be playing in 2020, which is when they're scheduled to officially make the move to Vegas. 

Related slideshow: Best of NFL season (provided by USA Today Sports) 

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