The NFL last expanded in 2002, but given the league continual popularity and growth, the introduction of additional franchises in the future seems inevitable.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio thinks that expansion is destined to come, but not anytime soon.
Joining the Bernstein & Rahimi Show on 670 The Score on Wednesday, Florio said that he believes the ideal number of franchises for the NFL is 40 teams, but admits that would likely take decades.
“I think it’s going to go 32 to 34, stop over to 36,” Florio said. “Ultimately, 40 would be the perfect number — eight divisions with five teams each. I would like that. I probably won’t be around for that to happen. I mean, that’s eight more teams when you only have 32. But I think they can get there. The fact that there’s so many quarterbacks now that can get it done because the colleges are cranking out so many every year and the teams are finding ways to get these guys up to speed quickly, I think we could get to 40 at some point in the next — I don’t know — 40 or 50 years.”
If the league were to expand, Florio thinks they will ultimately go international.
“London is definitely a place to watch,” Florio said. “They’ve got two NFL stadiums in London, and I don’t think that’s a mistake. I remember years ago when L.A. was this perpetual possible return for the NFL, Al Michaels was the first one who said, ‘When it happens, it’s not going to be one team, it’s going to be two.’ And I think that same reasoning applies to London. When it happens, it’s going to be two. You’re going to have a built-in rivalry, you’re going to have reduced travel costs because those two teams will presumably be in the same division – although I feel bad for the two non-London teams in that same division that are going to have to come over there on a regular basis. Two teams, there’s two stadiums, two teams in London.”
The Houston Texans were the last franchise added to the league’s roster of teams in 2002.
The NFL is the largest of the major North American sports leagues with 32 teams. The NHL will get to 32 with the addition of the Seattle Kraken this fall. The MLB and NBA each have 30 and there are 27 MLS teams.