Leave it to the Dallas Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones to make things interesting. This week on the NFL Network in conversation with Michael Irvin and Rich Eisen he opened up the topic of the league returning to Los Angeles.
"I feel more imminent about a team being in here, that it's more imminent than any time since we haven't had a team in Los Angeles," Jones said. "And yes, this market is a huge market, it's a little bit of a black eye for all of us to have had this many years and not had an NFL team in Los Angeles.
"The owners don't mess much up ... but we haven't gotten this one right. There's people, there's locations, there are people that are interested, a lot of people that can help us put this thing together. And as it turns out that we have at least two teams ... that could move to this area."
Jones was asked where a prospective team (or two!) would come from.
"There won't be any expansion," he said. "So it will be teams that move."
So who are the likely candidates to head to the City of Angels?
Well the first team that comes to mind is the San Diego Chargers. A 115 mile trip up I-5 would actually be a trip home for the Bolts. Back in 1960, it was the first season of the upstart American Football Conference, and the Los Angeles Chargers were playing in the Coliseum with the Rams. Despite the team making the playoffs in their first season there just wasn’t any crowds so they moved to San Diego.
So what are they saying in San Diego about a move?
The Chargers president and CEO Dean Spanos quieted rumors of a team relocation to Los Angeles told the NFL.com's Albert Breer a firm commitment to San Diego as the franchise continues its quest to replace Qualcomm Stadium.
"Obviously, we know what's going on up in L.A., but we have never used L.A. as leverage against the city of San Diego," he said. "I won't do that. Like I said, our goal is to be in the city of San Diego, and we'll continue to try to get something done there."
Even though Spanos sounds like he is not going anywhere he did tell NFL.com that getting a new deal done in San Diego will be a challenge. He conceded that the Chargers would need public support to address the team's stadium situation.
"It's very difficult to get public money in the state of California, but in our marketplace, we need a public contribution to get something done," he said. "Everybody's aware of it. We just need to find the right formula that works for everybody, and it has to be fair for everybody. The politicians know what needs to be done. We just need to get something and make it work."
How about the Bills?
Well there has been plenty of talk about Buffalo headed west but don’t count on it happening. Of all people to assure Bills fans that the team isn’t going anywhere it was none other than the Cowboys’s Jones.
“The thing that Bills fans ought to know is there are a handful of other cities as well that look to Los Angeles and say, ‘Should the fact the NFL doesn’t have a team out there concern us?’” Jones recently told Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. “I think that’s an obvious thing to think about, but if I were a Bills fan I would feel good about the recent negotiation and remodeling of the stadium.” But despite what the Cowboys owner says there is some big time issue to resolve in one of the leagues smallest markets.
In seven years, their lease can be broken, the price for leaving becomes much more affordable. Depending on who owns the team at the time, the Bills could be in play to leave.
We have the Jaguars already playing one home game per year for four straight years in London and Commissioner Roger Goodell recently suggesting that number could double, opening the outside chance that if not moving the team to England then L.A. is clearly an option. For years the Jags have been the top candidate to be playing anywhere other than Jacksonville in the near future.
Lastly, we have the team that started this who conversation and would be the St. Louis Rams. Just like the Raiders bolting L.A. to head back to Oakland it is not out of the question to see the Rams leave St. Louis to return to L.A.
A dispute with the city that has given the Rams their freedom could open the way for the team to leave St. Louis, the Rams are now free to leave the stadium after the 2014 season. They could try to renewed push for a new stadium in St. Louis and it could also mean flirtations with other cities for a franchise that’s already called three different towns their home.
So the best chance of moving?
Chargers are a good bet with the Jags and the Rams not far behind.