At long last, after a 19-year absence, the NFL is ready to return to Los Angeles. It's no longer a matter of if, but when.

Expect the NFL to announce a return to America's entertainment capital and the second-biggest market in the next 12 months, with one or two teams debuting in Los Angeles no later than the start of the 2017 season.

Several key statements from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft make it a certainty the NFL is knocking on L.A.'s door. The Rams and Raiders left at the end of the 1994 NFL season.

The first key indication — the 2015 NFL Draft will be held either in Los Angeles or Chicago. As a marquee events, it would be nonsensical to award the draft to a city that wasn't home to an NFL franchise. That's why if the NFL puts the draft in L.A., you can bet it's ready to have a team there.

Awarding the NFL Draft to a city that isn't home to an NFL team over a key market like Chicago would be an insult to everything the Windy City represents to pro football. The city was a charter member in 1920 with the Cardinals. The Bears moved in from Decatur, Ill., in 1921.

If the pending move of the 2015 NFL Draft weren't a strong enough indication, speaking last week at the Beverly Hilton during a panel on Thursday Night Football, Goodell offered this:

"It still comes back to, 'Do we have the right solution in Los Angeles?' And that comes back to a stadium.

"Do we have a stadium that we feel can be competitive with the high-quality stadiums? I just came from San Francisco, from a ribbon-cutting for a new stadium (in Santa Clara) and we're excited about that and we're investing billions of dollars in creating those kinds of stadiums."