St. Louis may be moving closer to a potential expansion team, if it wants one.
Earlier this month, we outlined the factors that could result in the league throwing up its hands and accepting defeat in the Rams relocation litigation. One key ingredient to that specific outcome will be Rams owner Stan Kroenke successfully reneging on his promise to foot the full bill for the lawsuit and judgment, if any.
“Although . . . Kroenke has agreed to indemnify the rest of the league for whatever the verdict may be — and although the lawyers have told the other owners that the indemnity commitment is ironclad — there’s a concern that the eventual judgment in the case could be big enough to get Kroenke to try not to honor it,” we wrote on October 9.
As explained by Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com, NFL general counsel Jeff Pash informed the owners on Tuesday (after Kroenke was asked to leave the room) that Kroenke is challenging the indemnity agreement that he signed when receiving permission to move in 2016. Giants co-owner John Mara reportedly called Kroenke’s position “ridiculous,” explaining that the owners never would have voted to authorize the move from St. Louis to L.A. without the indemnity agreement.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has long supported Kroenke’s L.A. move (and whose Legends Hospitality has profited from the relocation), defended Kroenke. Jones blamed the league’s current legal peril on the fact that the sworn deposition given by an unidentified owner was “shaky.”
Kroenke reportedly blames the current legal issues on the competing proposal to build a Carson stadium for the Raiders and Chargers. The Carson proposal supposedly outlined the various ways that allowing the Rams to move to Inglewood would violate the terms of the league’s relocation policy. Kroenke believes that proposal provided a blueprint for the St. Louis suit.
Jones reportedly said that Kroenke may sue over the indemnification agreement. If Kroenke prevails, the league will be on the hook for the outcome of the St. Louis litigation. And that will raise the chances dramatically of the league offering St. Louis an expansion team as part of a settlement.