Carolina Panthers

NFL owners updated on timeline for Panthers sale at league meetings. Is May possible?

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft addresses media at the annual NFL league meeting in Orlando on Monday.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft addresses media at the annual NFL league meeting in Orlando on Monday. Jourdan Rodrigue/Charlotte Observer

Some NFL team owners were updated on the progress of the Carolina Panthers’ sale at the annual league meetings, including a projected timeline.

“They updated a presentation, and I think they’re hoping by our May meeting that they’ll have a finalist to present,” New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Monday.

The NFL’s spring meeting is May 21-23 in Atlanta.

There are at least three potential bidders for the team: South Carolina businessman Ben Navarro, Miami hedge fund manager David Tepper and Canadian steel company CEO Alan Kestenbaum.

A Bloomberg report said that the price of the franchise has reached $2.5 billion, a number the news service said prompted a fourth potential bidder, Philadelphia e-commerce mogul Michael Rubin to drop out. But sources close to the process told the Observer last week that Rubin has made a bid and is still interested in the team at the right price.

A Pro Football Talk report released Monday morning said that “at least three more” bidders had emerged in the process, which the Observer could not immediately corroborate.

Multiple bidders, or even the appearance of them, would likely increase the final price for the franchise.

Dallas Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said Monday that he had been told there are three serious bidders. Jones said that he is unclear on any frontrunner in this time.

“It’s tough for me (to say) other than what they tell us,” he said. “My understanding is there’s three really qualified people that are now in the hunt. And that’s all I really know about it.”

Should Panthers owner and founder Jerry Richardson have a final name by the May meetings, 24 of the league’s 32 owners will have to approve the finalist before the sale can become official.

Richardson announced he would put the team up for sale in December, following an explosive Sports Illustrated report detailing allegations of sexual and racial workplace misconduct by Richardson. He remains under NFL investigation.

Richardson is not present in Orlando for the league meeting, and the Panthers are instead represented by chief operating officer Tina Becker on all voting matters and league business.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue