While the Los Angeles Rams officially begin their move back to Los Angeles, their potential partners are in the process of deciding whether or not to join them.
The San Diego Chargers – and perhaps soon to be Los Angeles Chargers – will begin evaluating the framework of the partnership deal the National Football League approved upon granting the Rams and Chargers relocation to Los Angeles Tuesday in Houston.
As we know, the Rams move was put in place as soon as fellow owners voted and ratified it. And while the Chargers were approved to move immediately as well, they were also given up to a year to decide whether to pursue it.
According to sources, the framework of the deal was actually forwarded to Chargers owner Dean Spanos late Monday night. And by early evening Tuesday he was asked to sign off on it. Needless to say, that was an extraordinarily quick turnaround after spending the last 12 months focused exclusively on moving with the Raiders to Carson.
Which is why the Chargers requested up to 12 months to decide. At the very least to take some time to breathe and think about things.
Two days later, the Chargers and their advisors are beginning the process of digging into the framework of the deal. According to league sources, whatever form the deal eventually evolves into, it will represent a true partnership between the Rams and Chargers.
The issue is timing – at least as it relates to finalizing something in time for the 2016 season. According to sources close to the situation, the Chargers want to decide within the next two to three weeks whether a deal can get done – or not done. They want clarity on whether they are moving to L.A. or staying in San Diego within that time frame.
For obvious reasons: There are tickets to sell in one or the other market and possibly an entire franchise to move.
The question is, can they close such an important, franchise-altering deal – and have assurances they will be protected over the duration of it – in such a tight window?
Sources close to the situation insist the Chargers will be well protected in the deal – that the promises Rams owner Stan Kroenke made to them on Tuesday and the deal they all agreed to doesn’t change just because the Rams were granted relocation to Los Angeles.. Essentially, the Chargers have 30 other partners and a commissioner ensuring they will be insulated from any pitfalls or surprises upon sitting down with Kroenke.
And they also have the word of Kroenke, who stood in front of his fellow owners and pledged he will work fairly and honorably with Spanos and them. According to NFL sources, Kroenke is well aware the eyes of the league are on him, and he has every intention of being a good partner.
And as a high-ranking NFL executive said, “There is no way Stan can put one over on them.”
The other option for Spanos to is re-group and spend the next year re-engaging in talks with the city of San Diego on a new stadium deal. With the baseline parameters on a deal with the Rams already in place – and a guaranteed landing spot in L.A. awaiting him – he can use it to leverage San Diego into making a deal.
Said a league source: “Why rush it? Commit to San Diego for a year, and see where it gets you. Have a vote. Get finality.”
In theory, that is sound advice.
The flip side risk is every day the Chargers give the Rams to get a leg up on them in Los Angeles is a day wasted. In addition, Spanos risks alienating a new market that might sense he is simply using L.A. to get a better deal in San Diego. And if a new stadium doesn’t emerge in San Diego and he moves to Los Angeles in 2017, he might always be looked at as viewing L.A. as his fall-back option rather than the place he truly wants to call home.
Maybe the better play is for Spanos is to turn the page on San Diego, trust the process, his colleagues and new partner and close the deal with Kroenke,
And send a clear, direct message to everyone is he ready to make Los Angeles the new home of the Chargers.