On Monday, the Rams and the Chargers conducted the first meeting aimed at making Kroenkeworld a two-team operation. The meeting is now over, and that’s all we know.
“We have concluded our first meeting,” the teams said in a joint statement. “We mutually have agreed not to publicly discuss details of this or any future meeting.”
It’s a vague (deliberately) message inviting plenty of speculation about whether and to what extent progress was made, whether and to what extent more meetings will happen, and whether and to what extent a deal is possible without future meetings.
In most cases, action in the NFL is driven by deadlines. In this situation, what’s the deadline? For Chargers players and employees, it’s undoubtedly right now. The Rams can’t sell premium products at the new stadium until a deal is done, but that’s not the same type of urgency.
Until the two sides agree on a deadline, it will be impossible to agree to a deal, because both sides will refrain from moving toward their bottom-line position for fear of being squeezed off of it as the actual deadline approaches.
That’s why it would have been better for the NFL not to give the Chargers until January of 2017 to finalize a deal with the Rams. If the league had given the two sides until, say, the end of January 2016, the deal would be 13 days away from getting done.
Unless, of course, the Rams prefer sharing a stadium (and in turn competing) with the Raiders, who will get dibs on partnering up if/when the Chargers pass. For Rams owner Stan Kroenke, it could be better to partner with Raiders owner Mark Davis, who may be willing to do the deal on terms the Chargers wouldn’t. And it would be naive to assume that Kroenke hasn’t thought of that — or that Kroenke won’t find out what Davis would agree to before reaching an agreement with Spanos.