The NFL may be looking beyond the United States for expansion opportunities, according to an anonymous NFL owner who spoke to Front Office Sports. The league is reportedly considering creating an international division in the coming years. However, the owner did not give a specific timeline for the division’s creation, stating that it may begin within two to five years.
In recent years, the NFL has expanded its reach globally by hosting regular season games in different countries. The league tied a record five international games in 2003, with three in London and two in Germany. Last season, the league had five international games, including three in London, one in Germany, and one in Mexico.
If the NFL were to expand its franchises by more than two teams, it would be a first in league history. The Houston Texans were the last expansion team to join the league in 2002, while the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars were the last teams to be added in 1995. However, the league added four expansion teams between 1995 and 2002 to reach the current 32-team format.
There’s still no word on which cities this could happen
Although reports have surfaced over the years about the Jacksonville Jaguars potentially relocating to London, the team continues to play only one game per season at Wembley Stadium. Since the NFL International Series began in 2007, the league has played an international game almost every season, except for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last season, the NFL added a game in Germany and has scheduled two more for 2023, although the German cities have not yet been announced. Munich hosted the league’s first game in Germany last season.
London, Munich, and Mexico City have hosted International Series games in the past and could be prime candidates for expansion teams if the NFL decides to establish a division in Europe. However, the league may also consider cities that have not yet hosted NFL International Series games.