An NFL team in Portland isn’t something that generates a whole lot of discussion on a regular basis. However, the idea makes a certain sense, when you think about it. Much of Oregon pays very close attention to high-level college football already, given that the University of Oregon is often one of the best teams in the country.
And as folks in Canby are well aware, high school football in the area is a pretty big deal as well. Football aside, it’s also worth considering the Portland Timbers, who have thrived in the up-and-coming MLS — perhaps indicating that the area can indeed support new or emergent franchises.
The quickest way for a professional football team in Oregon to materialize would be through relocation, which is always a threat for struggling franchises. In recent years, we’ve seen the Chargers and Rams relocate, and the Oakland Raiders have a deal in place to move to Las Vegas. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is talk about which team could be the next one to seek a new home.
For some time now, the Buffalo Bills have been at the forefront of such talk, and it’s true that there are some franchise-level issues that a move might solve. This year, however, the Bills are appearing somewhat resurgent. They’re off to a terrific start in 2019, and the week-to-week odds are giving them a chance to compete with virtually every team in the league. If that success is sustained, it could lead to more pressure from the community for the organization to make things work in Buffalo.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the other teams that come up most frequently in these discussion, and either could be a realistic candidate. Indeed, the very fact that the state of Florida has three teams could be an argument for one of these middling franchises to move on. Both franchises have had ups and downs, but neither is so strong as to have particularly deep community ties.
For the reasons mentioned above, Portland could wind up on the short list for any franchise looking to relocate. However, we should also note that the city has been discussed as a possible location for an expansion team as well.
Portland isn’t alone in this regard: Austin and Montréal come up as well, some believe San Diego needs a replacement for the Chargers (now in LA), and there are some even more obscure possibilities. Furthermore, some expect the NFL to venture into Europe or Mexico if and when it expands. Nevertheless, because it’s a proven sports city and the area loves its football, Portland would likely at least be considered.
For that matter, it’s also worth pointing out that some of the best fan experiences and most beloved teams exist in the northern states, from the Pacific to the Midwest. Seattle, Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago offer big-time NFL experiences, and Portland could conceivably join that club.
None of this means a Portland NFL team is necessarily likely, and even if one comes about, it won’t be for a number of years. With the league perpetually eyeing relocation and expansion opportunities though, and Portland being such a clear fit, this is something for sports fans in the city and suburbs alike to keep in mind.