Could NFL realignment be around the corner?
According to multiple reports, the NFL has discussed the potential of moving the Chargers from Los Angeles to London, which could shake up the AFC West.
Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic was the first to report the talks among league officials. His story says while the Chargers are “committed to Los Angeles where it will move into the new $4.5 billion stadium with the Rams next year, the Chargers would at least listen if the NFL approached them about London as a possible option.”
Ryan Phillips of The Big Lead reported the Chargers and Rams might not be coexisting well in LA. Specifically, Rams owner Stan Kroenke isn’t happy with Chargers owner Dean Spanos.
“Source says there’s truth to London report but it’s much more complicated. Kroenke and other NFL owners want Spanos to leave LA,” Phillips tweeted. “He has no one left on his side after three years and no progress.”
Spanos vehemently denied those reports.
“We’re not going to London,” Spanos told Sports Illustrated’s Jason B. Hirschhorn. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re playing in Los Angeles. This is our home. This is where I’m planning to be for a long ... time. Period.”
The Chargers tweeted a movie clip, which echoed their owner’s sentiments and includes a number of people flipping the bird. You can see that here.
The Athletic story notes the Chargers haven’t paid a $650 million relocation fee for its move from San Diego to Los Angeles before the 2017 season. However, the NFL could transfer that cost to a move to London.
An NFL source told Bonsignore: “The current path they are on will not yield results in the foreseeable future. They need to consider something to shake up their franchise. This would give them a major international market and the chance to shine.”
A Chargers’ move across the pond wouldn’t necessarily mean the Chiefs would play an annual game in England. Instead, the NFL would likely realign the divisions.
Bonsignore said that could mean the Chargers moving to the AFC South and the Texans joining the AFC West.
There may not be need for realignment if the Chargers moved somewhere closer to Kansas City. And NFL reporter Benjamin Allbright says another possible landing spot for the Chargers is St. Louis.
However, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson addressed a rumor of a Chargers move to St. Louis last month and said there are a couple of big stumbling blocks. There would be no public assistance for a move and St. Louis’ ongoing lawsuit against the NFL over the Rams’ move to Los Angeles.
“I can’t speak for the lawyers who are chipping away at the big relocation lawsuit, but I don’t think a settlement is on their minds,” Frederickson wrote. “They want to make an example of the league, and their big war has a decent pile of little victories piling up.”
Regardless of whether the Chargers move to St. Louis, London or stay in Los Angeles, the Chiefs will be playing a divisional road game in a different city next year. The Raiders will open play in Las Vegas in 2020.