If the NFL is considering expansion and adding more franchises, the league is going to look outside the United States for it’s next venture. The league is looking to create an international division in the coming years, an anonymous NFL owner told Front Office Sports.
The anonymous owner said the league doesn’t know if the international division will start within two years or five years, not providing a timetable for the division to take place. The league will tie a record five international games in 2003, three in London and two in Germany. The NFL had five international games last season, three in London, one in Germany, and one in Mexico.
An expansion of more than two teams would be a first in league history. The last expansion team was the Houston Texans in 2002 and the last time the league expansion was two teams with the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. While the league hasn’t added an expansion team in 21 years, the NFL added four expansion teams from 1995 to 2002 to get to the current 32-team format.
Reports have appeared over the years of the Jacksonville Jaguars potentially moving to London, but the Jaguars continue to play one game a season at Wembley Stadium. The league has played an international game nearly every season since the NFL International Series began in 2007 (sans the 2020 season where the games were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
The league added a game in Germany last season and added two for 2023. While the German cities the league will play in this year have not been announced, the NFL played their first game in Germany in Munich last season.
The league has played International Series games in London, Munich, and Mexico City thus far — those cities would appear to be prime candidates for expansion teams in the future. If the NFL chooses to have a division in Europe, cities that haven’t hosted NFL International Series games would be on the table.