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NFL expansion doesn't look like an option

PHOENIX -- Throughout the process of relocation and the various attempts to either bring football to Los Angeles or keep the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders in their current markets, many have been left to wonder what would happen to team or city on the outside looking in when it comes to this game of billion-dollar musical chairs.

It stands to reason that somebody is not going to get what they want, though it's still unclear which team or city that will be. All three of the current home markets could step up, or maybe none will. In the many permutations of how it could all play out, somebody is probably going to be left without a chair, or at least not the chair they most would like to sit in.

That's left some questions about whether expansion would be a possibility? The answer, according to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, is no.

"I think expansion would be very difficult," Kraft said. "Look, I know. I bought my team 21 years ago, and I was so privileged to do it. If any ownership group puts their heart and soul into it, the local people will support it. It’s a product that the public wants, but they have to feel that you’re serious and want to do what you want to do. I don’t see expansion being an option. Any community that is privileged to have a team, love them up."

It's been no coincidence that during this whole process, the St. Louis stadium task force has made it clear they are working to keep the Rams in town but also have made it a point to refer to St. Louis as an "NFL city" on multiple occasions as well. The task force's Twitter hashtag even includes the NFL mention over something specifically related to the Rams.

That's because there are some factors beyond their control. Even if St. Louis can come up with the money to help finance a stadium, there's no guarantee Rams owner Stan Kroenke will be on board to chip in the $250 million being asked of him. So if he were to take the unprecedented step of moving away while a city is offering him public money, the NFL would still be hesitant to turn away from that offer.

Which is why, even as Kraft made it clear that the home markets should be given a fair shake, he also chose his words carefully when it comes to preserving current teams in their markets.

"My point of view, if they come up with a plan that looks pretty good and a strong financial package, we the NFL have an obligation, in my opinion, to have a team in St. Louis," Kraft said.

That team could be anybody, but it almost certainly won't be an expansion franchise. At this point, the NFL has reached a saturation point and though an expansion franchise would mean expansion fees, those fees would have to be astronomical to help offset the decreased size of the piece of the pie that 32 teams currently share.

So no matter who is sitting where when the music stops, don't expect any new players in the game.