Last weekend there were a couple of developments in the NFL Los Angeles relocation plans. The first was Goodell including St Louis in his judgment that the three home market stadium plans are "unsatisfactory and inadequate" despite every indication suggesting otherwise. The second was Jerry Jones offering an alternative plan that would have the Chargers and Rams team up in Inglewood.
There are a couple things that interest Roger Goodell and the NFL above all others. The first is money. That always takes precedence and the return of the NFL to Los Angeles would be tremendous financially. The second is appeasing the 32 owners. And with three teams vying for at most two spots in LA, one of them is going to get left out, making appeasing all three owners a difficult task.
The question of which team gets left out will ultimately be answered by the 32 owners this week when they vote on the two projects - Carson or Inglewood - and/or the two teams that will inhabit the new stadium there.
For the Rams part, Stan Kroenke has made his plans known for some time. The ‘good faith effort' which team owners are supposed to make with their existing market in order to qualify for the move was one Kroenke doesn't even pretend to make. He is the only of the three owners to not make any such effort.
In addition, St Louis is the only city which has put forth an extremely aggressive and seemingly viable plan to keep the team - despite Goodell stating to the contrary. But Kroenke is not listening. And neither is the NFL.
Some three weeks prior to St Louis sending their proposal to the league to keep the Rams, the NFL had already made up their mind; "St. Louis will fall short of having a compelling proposal that would attract the Rams," NFL VP Eric Grubman told a St Louis radio station on December 9.
Oakland and San Diego have never been able to muster up anything resembling an acceptable plan. Oakland has flat out denied a single penny of public money toward a new stadium - offering only money for infrastructure surrounding the stadium construction.
And then there's San Diego. The franchise that has stayed true to the Southern California market for 55 years even while the Raiders and Rams were in Los Angeles and then both teams left in the mid 90s. A franchise that would be done dirty should the league allow the Raiders and Rams to both return to Los Angeles, leaving them to fight a losing stadium battle in San Diego.
There is no painless way out of this conundrum if you're Roger Goodell and the NFL. But the easiest solution from his standpoint is to have the Raiders be the team left out.
If the Rams and Chargers both take Los Angeles, it would be in Kroenke's Inglewood facility. He has already made concessions to be equal partners in the stadium with whichever owner wishes to join him there. He did this in the hopes his project would be the one approved by the league.
Dean Spanos has maintained that he will not back out of his deal with Mark Davis in Carson. But if the league owners vote down the project and/or the Raiders as one of the teams, Spanos's best option for a new stadium could be to accept the partnership in Inglewood. That is, of course, also dependent upon the owners approving the new alternative plan that would have the Rams and Chargers teaming up in Inglewood.
This wouldn't be a simple ‘get lost' statement to the Raiders.
For Goodell to appease all the owners in this scenario, he would need to give Mark Davis a golden parachute of sorts (something Peter King also noted Monday, but is not a new concept). That means financial compensation for Davis in the event he is left out of the Los Angeles market. It could leave the Raiders in pretty good shape financially in their efforts to fund a new stadium in Oakland. So, while the Raiders would be in a disadvantage at the bargaining table with the city of Oakland due to the leverage lost without the threat of an LA move, they would also be in a better position to accept compromise and concessions in the negotiations.
Mark Davis has been the only one of the three owners in the relocation discussion who has made an effort to maintain a strong relationship with his current home market and the fans, including being the only of the three to attend the NFL's town hall meeting in Oakland. Kroenke is severing ties altogether because he's dead set on leaving and Spanos has finally given up hope after over a decade of attempts to get a new stadium in San Diego have failed.
It can be tempting to believe that all this is one big ruse with a predetermined outcome. I don't believe that is the case whatsoever. Both LA stadium plans are viable and could be home to one or two of these three teams in 2016.
Which teams move to LA will be decided by Wednesday's vote from the owners and reports just weeks ago still had none of the teams or projects receiving enough votes to be approved. That's undoubtedly part of the reason Jerry Jones introduced the Rams and Chargers in Inglewood as a third option up for vote. And it is probably no coincidence that that option would be the most appealing to Goodell at this juncture.