As in many things in life, the only constant in the NFL is change. One thing that the NFL doesn’t want to change at the moment is the number (32) of teams that they have. They feel that everything works perfectly with the formula of 32 teams spread out over two conferences and eight divisions. What will change is the home of those 32 teams.
There’s been plenty of speculation of which teams will be on the move and where they’ll be headed. A few things that are for sure, the second largest market in America, Los Angeles, needs a football team and Roger Goodell wants a team to take up a home outside of the U.S. Toronto is the most likely residence.
There are a few teams that are constantly mentioned with being on the move for one reason or the other. I’ll list those as well as a few surprise cities that could see packing up if things don’t change.
Top Choices for Relocation to Los Angeles
1) Jacksonville – The Jaguars have improved their ticket sales but it appears as if they’re fighting a losing battle. Jacksonville is technically in Florida but feels more like Savannah, Georgia. It’s a failed North Florida experiment that should be cancelled out and moved immediately to L.A. The drafting of Blaine Gabbert as the future quarterback of this franchise has sealed the last nail in the coffin. As the Jags fall to becoming the perennial worst team in the AFC South, the front office will call in the moving trucks in hope for a fresh start under the bright lights of Hollywood. LA Jags?
2) San Diego – The Chargers high powered, quick scoring offense, fits what the locals in Los Angeles have become accustomed to with the Lakers. If LA will build the Chargers a new stadium, it will not be a matter of if, but when the Chargers take up residence. LA may have to change their feelings on the Chargers, who many came to despise when the Raiders were the local team. They’ll quickly get over that, once they realize that they have a professional team again. Also, it doesn’t hurt to be getting a team that had a top ranked offense and defense. LA Chargers?
3) Oakland / St. Louis – Neither one of these teams should have ever left Los Angeles, but I understand why they did. With that being said, we’ve all seen this movie before and I don’t care to see it again. Give another franchise an opportunity to play in the second largest market in the U.S. Of course it makes sense for both to go if a new stadium is built for them but does it make sense for the fans of LA to want two franchises back that left them for greener pastures? Plus, how boring are the LA Raiders / LA Rams? Seen it before.
Top Choices for Relocation to Toronto
1) Buffalo - The Bills are similar to the Jaguars. They occupy less than prime real estate in one of the larger states. Unlike the Jags though, the Bills have a storied history in the NFL. They went to 4 straight Super Bowls, the comeback over the Oilers, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, Scott Norwood..d’oh! But, even with the history lesson, the story of Buffalo football in the 2000′s is rather boring. Ralph Wilson doesn’t want the team moved out of Buffalo but he’s 92 and the team will have to do what’s best for them. The writing is already on the wall with the team beginning to play more and more games further up north. It also hurts Buffalo fans that the NFL commissioner wants to grow the team outside the states. Toronto Bills? Ugh.
2) Detroit – This may be a surprise to many, but it’s not a secret that Detroit has been affected severely by the downturn of the economy. It would be a punch in the stomach for a city that has been suffering so much, that finally has this Lions team headed in the right direction, to move just as they got competitive. This is a business though, and if it’s found to be extremely more profitable to move to Canada, then it wouldn’t be ridiculous to think that an owner do what’s in his best interest. As far as Toronto is concerned, Detroit is a lot closer to being a serious competitor than Buffalo. It’ll be easy to get the fans of Canada to latch on to a fierce leader like Matt Stafford, a premier receiver in Calvin Johnson, and one of the games most ferrous defensive lines in Kyle Vanden Bosch, Ndamukong Suh, and Nick Fairley. Toronto Lions?
Tampa Bay – If you think the fans of Detroit are mad at me from the last paragraph, wait until you hear the thoughts of Floridians that realize that I wouldn’t be surprised to see 2 of their franchises move out of state. At face value it appears that the young Buccaneers are finally turning it around, but then you realize that they play in the same division as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. Josh Freeman could very well be a top 10 quarterback in the NFL but Drew Brees and Matt Ryan are ranked higher than him on that list. The owner, Malcolm Glazer, seems more interested in spending money on his Manchester United Futbol team (I just threw up a little bit after calling soccer football), then his Bucs team. Then there are the character concerns we’ve talked about here on the site.
The Bucs became one of the first franchises to really take a player’s character into consideration before drafting or signing them. They have since abandoned that philosophy and this could lead to their demise. Aqib Talib is their premier cornerback and they may be forced to move him due to off the field issues, like shooting a gun at people. I strongly believe that this team is going to blow up overnight. You can’t build a team with a bunch of players that have more mug shots than football cards. If Raheem Morris pulls off a deal for Nnamdi Asomugha and gets rid of Aqib Talib, then that may be Tampa’s saving grace. After taking heat for their character guys, they did draft better human beings this year. Still, it’s worth a follow to see how this team plays out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team head north, west, or on an extreme long shot, east across the pond. They are already scheduled to play a game in London, again this year, why not just stay there? London Bucs?
That’s what I’m reading between the lines. But, I’m sure that there are several fan bases out there holding up 3 fingers at me right now and telling me to read between the lines. Those same fans may need to put those 3 fingers back down and push that thumb up, cause you’ll need a ride to Los Angeles or Toronto if you want to see your favorite team in a couple of years.