NFL AM: The Race to L.A. Features Twilight-like Drama


Lust for L.A. Reaches its Twilight

I hate myself for making this connection, but the NFL’s pursuit of the Los Angeles market has become a lot like the Twilight Saga.

The role of Bella is played by the city of Los Angeles, the object of lust for everyone else in the story. The role of Edward Cullen is played by the Rams, as that is the union everyone recognizes as inevitable. The Chargers and Raiders, in their joint effort to build a stadium in Carson City, play the role of Jacob Black, the sexy competition destined to come in second. After all, their stadium proposal includes a tower that would shoot lightning bolts after Chargers touchdowns — now that’s sexy!

And Roger Goodell? He’s the horny teenage girl who gets off by reading this crap under the covers after her parents go to sleep.

“We had presentations earlier this week that are very exciting,” Goodell said “Not just for a return but to continue being successful going forward.”

The drama keeps increasing with each installment of this saga, with the same essential dilemma driving the action: the Los Angeles market only has room for two teams, so one of these franchises is set to get its heart broken.

The simple solution would involve the Chargers and Raiders moving into their joint stadium together, leaving the Rams to find other accommodations. Unfortunately, it is not that easy, as Stan Kroenke’s $1.8 million stadium project in Inglewood is even further along than the Carson proposal. Also, Kroenke can fund his stadium by himself, an expediting factor neither the Chargers nor Raiders can match.

If the Inglewood project goes forward and the Rams fill one of Los Angeles’ two openings, it puts the Chargers and Raiders in a bind. Neither franchise can fund the Carson project alone, meaning they would have have to join forces with Kroenke or explore more options in their current home cities.

A St. Louis-based stadium task force met with the NFL this week to reveal plans for a $1 billion stadium along the Mississippi River. If that is not enough to entice the Rams to stay (and let’s be honest, that option will tempt Kroenke about as much as Mike Newton tempted Bella), that stadium could represent a possible consolation prize to the Raiders or Chargers, whichever team is the odd team out in L.A.

The most likely scenario at this point, wild as it may sound, involves the Rams moving to Los Angeles in 2016. The Chargers will likely join them there, either in 2016 or 2017, while the Raiders could very well replace the Rams in St. Louis. The whole thing sounds incestuous — almost like Jacob imprinting on Bella and Edward’s baby — but as the Twilight Saga taught us, Hollywood dollars are impossible to ignore.

Romo Promises Super Bowl Win

Apparently Tony Romo’s first taste of success since 2009 has gone straight to his head. After leading the Cowboys to 12 wins last season and just their second playoff victory since 1996, Romo believes his team will perform even better in 2015.

The QB was honored last week by being named this year’s recipient of the Nancy Lieberman Lifetime Achievement Award. Here’s how the closed his acceptance speech, according to the Dallas Morning News: “This award is very meaningful to me, mostly because I get to be associated with this and to be associated with Nancy. It’s incredible and I really appreciate you, and we’re going to win a Super Bowl next year. Thank you.”

It’s not an entirely outlandish claim, given that Dallas was a controversial call away from a trip to last season’s NFC Championship Game (although, to be fair, they were also a controversial call away from losing in the Wild Card Round). But mostly everything went right for the Cowboys last season, creating the kind of magical season that is tough to duplicate.

There are several factors working against Dallas in 2015. The team lost the league’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, to their top threat in the NFC East. George Selvie also left for a division rival, opting to join the Giants. And while the NFC East chipped away at Dallas’ talent base, the Buccaneers put a serious dent in Dallas’ defensive depth chart. Tampa Bay signed Henry Melton, Bruce Carter and Sterling Moore, players that contributed mightily to the Cowboys’ overachieving defense a season ago.

There is also the issue of Dez Bryant’s contract. The volatile receiver may become a locker room liability if he feels disrespected by the lack of a long-term contract.

That’s a lot of obstacles for the Cowboys to overcome if they hope to turn Romo’s prediction into reality. But with the draft right around the corner and Jerry Jones still in charge, what could possible halt their success? Right?

Nicks Picks the Titans

Draft week is a stressful time and not just for the the approximately 1,000 draft-eligible hopefuls looking to land jobs in the NFL. It is also hard on any veteran free agents who have yet to land new contracts, as they know that almost every available roster spot is about to be filled by younger and cheaper alternatives.

This is why players like Hakeem Nicks are wise to strike deals while they can, as he agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Titans on Monday. He is the second free-agent receiver to join the Titans this offseason (along with former Falcon Harry Douglas) as Tennessee looks to get more production from its pass catchers.

Nicks comes off a quiet season with the Colts, where he caught 38 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns. He was never a big part of Indianapolis’ rotation, but he did author a few big plays, especially later in the season as he became more comfortable with his role in the offense.

Nicks is still just 27 years old and has a couple of 1,000-yard seasons on his resumé (with the Giants in 2010 and 2011). Unfortunately, leg injuries have zapped some of his explosiveness since that time. He still has enough left in the tank to make an impact in Tennessee, though, even if the Titans draft another receiver next week as expected.

This signing continues a game of musical chairs amongst the receivers in the AFC South, with Nicks going from Indy to Tennessee, Andre Johnson going from Houston to Indy, and Cecil Shorts III going from Jacksonville to Houston.

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About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.