Details and paperwork, which could be completed in a few days, appear now to be the only obstacles keeping the Rams from announcing their intention to move to St. Louis.
John Shaw, Ram president, said Tuesday, "I think we are close to an agreement.
"We don't have papers done and there are still a couple of points to iron out, but if we get on a fast track it's conceivable we could have an announcement some time next week."
A radio station in St. Louis reported Monday that an announcement would be made Sunday, but Shaw said, "That won't be the case."
Shaw said he has not met with team owner Georgia Frontiere for final approval, but he has kept her informed throughout negotiations with St. Louis and sources within the organization have indicated she is prepared to move.
The move, which will require NFL approval at the annual March owners' meetings in Phoenix, might also include the sale of 40% of the team to Stan Kroenke, a Missouri businessman, who would pay $80 million and be given first right of refusal should the rest of the team ever be sold.
Kroenke, who has family ties to Wal-Mart, is not expected to play a management role with the team.
The Rams and Kroenke have not consummated a deal, but a delay in reaching an agreement is not expected to deter the announcement of the team's move to St. Louis if lease, practice facility and stadium revenue details are completed in the next few days.
The final agreement with St. Louis is also expected to include several provisos, which would allow the Rams to back out of the deal should certain premium-seat licensing guarantees not be met. The Rams would also have the option to rescind the deal should they fail to win NFL approval and not elect to fight in the courts.
After the announcement, the Rams are expected to make no immediate attempt to move but intend to go through the official NFL process, which includes a petition and a statement of reasons to the league for the move.
The team, however, is already gearing up for a fresh start.
Frontiere was scheduled to interview Steve Ortmayer, the Raiders' special teams coach, Tuesday night for the position of vice president of football operations. If she approves Ortmayer's hiring, he will join Jay Zygmunt, senior vice president, and begin screening candidates to replace coach Chuck Knox, who was fired Monday.
Wayne Sevier, Ram special teams coach, received permission Tuesday from team president John Shaw to interview with the Houston Oilers. Sevier left the Washington Redskins to join the Rams before the '94 season. Jeff Fisher, Houston head coach and a former Ram assistant, previously received permission to interview Ram secondary coach Rod Perry. . . . In a decision that could help Ram starting cornerback Darryl Henley's defense against drug conspiracy charges, a federal judge ruled in favor of splitting Henley's drug ring case and an extortion case against two others into two trials. The ruling means that some potentially damaging evidence involved in the extortion charges is likely to never be heard by Henley's jury.