Steelers’ minority owner David Tepper is expected to sign the deal today to buy the Panthers, league sources tell Seth Wickersham and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The deal will be finalized upon the NFL’s approval at the league meetings on Tuesday, May 22.
The $2.2 billion sale marks a new NFL record, though it was not necessarily the highest bid. During the process, there have been rumblings of bids in the $2.5 billion range. Late last year, there was some talk of a sale in the neighborhood of $3 billion, but that never came to pass.
However, Tepper’s purchase comes mostly in cash, which gave him a leg-up over the competition. He’s also a slam dunk to pass the NFL’s vetting process since he already owns a piece of the Steelers and the Panthers likely wanted to move on from the Jerry Richardson situation as quickly as possible.
The sale is indicative of the continued growth and health of the league, despite some fretting in 2017 over sagging television ratings. It’s also likely a product of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow states to legalize gambling. The decision from the country’s highest court is expected to open up new revenue streams for sports league, boost overall interest, and bring new fans into the fold.
In terms of football operations, it remains to be seen how the purchase affects the team. What we do know, per Schefter, is that Tepper will keep the team in Carolina. Meanwhile, Tepper is hoping to bring the Steeler way to Charlotte as he will emphasize “continuity, stability, progressive thinking on player contract extensions, and not setting the market on free agents,” per Schefter (Twitter link).