Jack Kent Cooke, the principal owner of the Redskins, reportedly is about to purchase the historic Chrysler Building, one of New York's finest examples of art deco architecture.

Sources said Cooke, who also is chairman of Teleprompter Corp., is willing to pay slightly less than $90 million for the Manhattan building.

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. owns the building now. It took control of the 49-year-old structure in early 1978 when it foreclosed on a mortgage.

Massachusetts Mutual would say only that it "is now in discussions with one business interest and that barring unforeseen circumstances" expects to sell the building within the next two or three weeks.

Cooke could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for Massachusetts Mutual said the company acquired the Chrysler Building for $35 million and has sunk another $30.9 million into it to restore the structure. If the sale goes through as expected, the insurance company will realize a capital gain of more than $20 million.

The Chrysler building was badly deteriorated and had an occupancy rate of about 50 percent when the insurance company acquired it. Now, however, after major renovations and a sudden surge in the New York office real estate market, the occupancy rate is 93 percent and the insurance company spokesman said the rate is expected to be between 95 and 100 percent by year's end.