The purpose of the memo does not appear to be driven by any plans that might be imminent. Rather, NFL insiders say, the commissioner felt it was appropriate to set and restate some ground rules, foremost among them:
It's the league -- and not an individual team -- that will control the relocation process
In making that point, Goodell put in writing what was discussed by owners at a May meeting in Atlanta and established rules for moving back to a market that has been without an NFL franchise since the Raiders and Rams left after the 1994 season.
That the memo refers specifically to the 2013 season does not necessarily mean the league is ready to reenter the market immediately, but it does underscore how seriously the NFL is considering the current opportunities. In order to be considered for relocation, Goodell wrote, a team must submit its application to do so between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15 of 2013