Has Chargers/Raiders stadium project really leaped ahead of Rams’ Inglewood stadium?

One of the interesting takeaways from last week’s NFL owners meetings in San Francisco is the national perception that the Chargers’ and Raiders’ Carson stadium plan has nudged ahead of Ram’s owner Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood project.

If you read some of the reports coming out of the meetings, the consensus seems to be the Chargers and Raiders now have the edge over the Rams should all this come down to a vote between the three teams and two plans.

I don’t necessarily see it that way. To me, the two projects were virtually neck and neck heading into last week and when the meetings wrapped up Wednesday that remained the case.

What’s changed, I believe, is more and more people finally realizing Carson is a legit plan with legit interest from the NFL and not just a smokescreen by the Chargers and Raiders to motivate San Diego and Oakland leaders into helping them build new stadiums.

As I’ve said all along, the need for smokescreens and leverage is long gone. The fact is, the Chargers and Raiders seem likely to need new homes. The work and money being invested in Carson is to insure the clubs have a soft landing spot in case new stadiums don’t emerge locally.

And the longer this drags on without a local solution, the more people begin seeing Carson for what it truly is: A very real, very legitimate back-up plan for the Raiders and Chargers. Perhaps even their next home.

It also didn’t hurt Carson’s cause that long-time NFL executive Carmen Policy was hired as the point man the day before the meetings began and the land transaction between the Chargers, Raiders and Carson officially closed on the very morning owners and reporters began gathering in the Bay Area.

The well-timed announcements resulted in a noticeable buzz. Momentum soon followed.

Nothing changed, necessarily. But perception was altered. All of a sudden, Carson became more real and viable.

But that’s been the case for sometime. Only now, people are beginning to see it as such.

Still, it’s a mistake to think Carson has now leaped ahead of Kroenke’s Inglewood project.

They are in a dead heat. Have been for some time.

So much so that the ultimate deciding factor isn’t so much whether the NFL prefers Inglewood or Carson as it is what’s on the table from St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland.

And by deciding factor, we mean who NFL owners deem the most justified to relocate to Los Angeles.

Even then, depending on what Kroenke’s true intentions are this still might come down back-door negotiations in which all three teams work toward a solution in which they each walk away satisfied.

As far as Carson and Inglewood, they’re neck and neck.