Alan Kestenbaum

Two Bidders Left For Panthers?

The Panthers could be close to having a new owner. One of the bidders, Steelers minority owner David Tepper, has dropped out of the race, Ken Belson of the New York Times reports.

Belson notes only two bidders — Ben Navarro, who owns the Sherman Financial Group investment firm, and Alan Kestenbaum, Bedrock Industries’ CEO — are left. Michael Rubin bowed out of the pursuit last month.

A hedge-fund billionaire, Tepper was the buyer whom Belson reports many NFL owners sought as the new Panthers owner. A vote on a new owner is expected to be held at the late-May league meetings in Atlanta. Belson writes that a winning bid could be chosen by the end of this month. Twenty-four owners must vote in favor of the new owner for the sale to be finalized.

Navarro is believed to have submitted a $2.6 billion bid, Belson reports, and it’s unclear if he will cover that price without other investors. A $2.6 billion sale would be an NFL record. A Navarro vote might not be as easy for the owners, with Belson reporting at least three have voiced concerns about him buying the Panthers. Albert Breer of tweets Navarro vetting’s been ongoing for a few weeks. Tepper had enough capital to buy the team without other investors being involved, which appealed to some NFL owners, and wouldn’t need to be approved since he already is a part-owner of the Steelers.

The Panthers aren’t a threat to relocate in the near future, per Belson, but he adds that there won’t be many restrictions to prevent the buyer from moving the franchise. The Panthers are bound to Bank of America Stadium only through this season.

Latest On Panthers’ Sale

The process of selling the Panthers franchise is moving along at an expected rate, and a vote on a new owner is expected to take place during late-May meetings in Atlanta, according to David Newton of, who adds a reported sale price of $2.5 billion could potentially be a bit inflated.

Per Newton, the two most likely candidates to purchase the Panthers remain South Carolina businessman Ben Navarro and Steelers minority owner/hedge fund billionaire David Tepper. Private equity manager Alan Kestenbaum and businessman Michael Rubin are also considered suitors, and Kestenbaum will visit Charlotte on Wednesday to tour the Carolina facilities, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.

Three other unidentified candidates may have also interest in the Panthers, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who speculates North Carolina software mogul Jim Goodnight and British businessman Joe Lewis could be in the running. Cowboys executive Stephen Jones said three “really qualified” suitors are part of the Carolina bidding process, but didn’t reveal those individuals.

Extra Points: Panthers, Steelers, Giants

The Panthers are for sale, and the price has reportedly risen to more than $2.5 billion, according to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg. For reference, the last NFL team to change hands — the Bills — reportedly went for $1.1 billion. The excessive price tag has caused at least one potential bidder, sports apparel mogul Michael Rubin, to drop out of the running, per Soshnick. However, a new suitor has emerged, as Alan Kestenbaum, CEO of private equity firm Bedrock Industries, has expressed interest in the Panther franchise, per Rick Rothacker and Katherine Peralta of the Charlotte Observer.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Los Angeles district attorney does not plan to file vandalism charges against Bills wide receiver Zay Jones following a bizarre incident which was caught on video earlier this week, reports Mike Rodak of (Twitter link), who adds insufficient evidence is available to press charges. Jones was arrested following a troubling entanglement in which he struggled with his brother — the Vikings’ Cayleb Jones — before kicking through a glass window. Buffalo selected Jones out of East Carolina in the second round of the 2017 draft. In his rookie campaign, Jones started 10 games and posted 27 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Several teams have been in contact with free agent running back Alfred Blue, per Jeremy Fowler of (Twitter link). The Steelers, presumably in the market for a veteran backup to Le’Veon Bell, are one of those clubs, but it doesn’t appear as though Blue will be signing with Pittsburgh. Blue, 26, hit his high-water mark in 2015 by rushing for 698 yards in nine starts for the Texans, but the addition of Lamar Miller has forced Houston to scale back Blue’s role since then. In 2017, Blue played on 21% of the Texans’ offensive snaps but managed only 3.7 yards per carry.
  • The Giants are still searching for cornerback help after cutting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie earlier this month, and they’re assessing the market for internal free agent Ross Cockrell, as Jordan Raanan of writes. Cockrell, whom New York acquired from Pittsburgh last September, started nine games for Big Blue in 2017. He finished first in Football Outsiders’ success rate, which measures cornerbacks on their ability to consistently stop opposing wideouts short of the sticks. Thus far, the Giants have agreed to terms with lower-tier defensive backs such as B.W. Webb, Teddy Williams, and Curtis Riley.
  • Although John Bowlen — son of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen — recently announced his intention to sell his minority stake in the club, he’s since agreed to sell a portion of his total ownership (which is roughly 30-35%) back to the team, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. John Bowlen’s decision to sell wouldn’t have necessarily affected day-to-day operations of the Broncos, as Pat Bowlen — who stepped down as principal owner in 2014 due to Alzheimer’s disease — would have still held the majority of the club and be entitled to designate one of his other children as his successor.