PHOENIX -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed optimism Monday that the Washington Commanders could be sold soon. Indianapolis Colts counterpart Jim Irsay expressed caution, saying the sale could spill into the fall.
In other words, NFL owners aren't quite sure when the Commanders sale will be finalized.
What they do know is, as expected entering the week, nothing will be resolved by the time the annual league meeting concludes here late Tuesday afternoon.
"The information is very little to none in terms of the 31 of us [owners], and probably even the league office right now," Irsay said of a Commanders sale process that opened in November and has seen in recent weeks intense speculation about when a deal could be announced. "We've heard what you guys have heard.
"I would think May would reveal some [answers] but certainly by October we'd expect to have some movement on these issues."
Irsay also said the owners aren't considering a vote to remove Dan Snyder, opting to let the sale process unfold. At the league meetings in October, Irsay caused a stir by saying it was perhaps time to consider such an action against the Commanders owner.
"You hope it doesn't come down to that," Irsay said, "and you don't speculate in terms of getting there because the best thing is having the process unfold where there's a sale.
"You think of them hopefully going right and a sale taking place, which will be greatly beneficial for everyone."
Snyder has not attended the league meetings for more than a year. But his wife and co-owner Tanya did represent the franchise.
Thus far, three known bidders have emerged: Josh Harris, Steve Apostolopoulos and Tilman Fertitta. Multiple sources have said there was a unknown fourth bidder, who toured the facility -- as did Harris and Apostolopoulos. Fertitta had been scheduled to tour their stadium, but he had to cancel and has not yet rescheduled.
"I believe that something is close to happening," said Kraft, who then added: "I don't know that for sure. We'll wait and see what happens."
But, Irsay said, for a vote to be taken in May they'd need to give the league enough time to do the necessary background work after an agreement is announced. He said that process could take up to a month, though it helps that someone like Harris was among the finalists to buy the Denver Broncos last summer.
"These things take a little time," Irsay said, "but a lot more could be known by May and you hope in a couple months that there's some real progress and you know a lot more. Right now it's hard to know exactly how close we could be in May with being presented with a buyer and a sale."
The Washington Post reported last month that Snyder would ask the owners for indemnification against future legal liabilities, a claim a Snyder spokesman called untrue Monday. Snyder remains under investigation by the NFL and attorney Mary Jo White. There are also multiple ongoing investigations into his finances, including by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Irsay said the other owners would not offer indemnity even if Snyder had asked.
"We're going to do what we've always done with deals like with Denver or Carolina," Irsay said. "It's going to be fair and equal treatment. There's a normal course that has to happen during a sale and we're going to stay along those lines. There's no reason for us to be giving any sort of unusual indemnification that the [others] didn't have. At this point it hasn't gotten to that because first you have to be presented with a buyer."
As Irsay spoke, one of Snyder's attorneys, Norm Chirite, stood behind the assembled media and videotaped some of his comments.
"It's certainly understandable why we would want to know what an owner who has previously left confidential League meetings and made disparaging comments about other owners had to say," a team spokesman said.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones told reporters that the Commanders are a national treasure.
"It's a team in the nation's capital, it's highly visible and creates a unique perspective for fans," Jones said.
"This just isn't any franchise," he said. "This is right there in Washington, D.C. in the power lane of the world -- not just the country, the world."
He then recalled the days when Jack Kent Cooke owned the franchise and Joe Gibbs was the coach and it played at RFK Stadium.
"What a great tradition," he said. "We hope for success going forward. This is a very unique opportunity in terms of ownership. All teams are very, very valuable but there are a few like this for the reasons that are obvious that are very key. We're just looking forward to getting it concluded."