David Tepper

NFL Approves David Tepper’s Panthers Purchase

No surprise here. On Tuesday, NFL owners voted to approve hedge fund manager David Tepper as the new owner of the Panthers.

Tepper is no stranger to the NFL community thanks to his time as a minority owner of the Steelers, so his approval at the Atlanta meetings was viewed as a mere formality. Between now and the finalization of his purchase – which is expected to take place in July – he’ll sell his 5% stake in the Steelers.

Tepper is paying $2.2 billion in cash for the club, plus another $75MM in deferred payment, bringing the total purchase price to a league record $2.275 billion. Tepper’s bid may not have been the highest of the bunch as there have been rumblings of bids in the $2.5 billion range.

The transaction sets a new watermark for the league and bodes well for future club values as television rights are expected to increase. The country’s relaxation of sports gambling laws should also aid the league’s growth and the next owner to sell his franchise could conceivably receive $2.5 billion.

The sale to Tepper also allows the league to quickly move on from the Jerry Richardson scandal of 2017. On Tuesday, Richardson will give a farewell address to his colleagues.

NFC Notes: Julio, Panthers, Bucs, Rams

As expected, Julio Jones reportedly did not attend the opening day of Falcons organized team activities, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter.

He adds head coach Dan Quinn will address the situation on Tuesday and did not respond to questions about the reports that Jones wants an update to his contract. Though he is absent, the two sides appear amenable and are likely to work things out in due time.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio speculates Jones, who has three years left on his current deal, could be trying to get the team’s attention after Matt Ryan‘s new contract is set to pay the quarterback ($30MM) twice the amount that Jones is to receive ($14.25MM). His current deal slots him in as the No. 8 receiver on the pay scale, behind players like Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins and Davante Adams.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap says that the word “update” could mean the Falcons moving money forward in Jones’ contract to make the team’s key player happy. On a team in win-now mode, the move could be seen as avoiding potential chemistry issues in the locker room. A recent example of this, according to Fitzgerald, is a similar situation with Antonio Brown and the Steelers.

“The Steelers twice moved money forward in Brown’s contract to prevent a player from being unhappy. In 2015 the Steelers moved $2 million from 2016 up to 2015 and in 2016 they moved $4 million from 2017 into 2016. Overall the team fronted him $4 million and then extended him in 2017.”

Regardless of what the course of action Atlanta chooses to pursue, it is unlikely to hinder it from fielding one of the top three receivers in the league in 2018.  

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Panthers sale to David Tepper is expected to go through without “any surprises,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told ESPN’s David Newton. Tepper needs 24 votes — 23 with the absence of former Panthers GM Jerry Richardson — on Tuesday when the 31 NFL owners convene. Richardson is unlikely to attend, but nothing has been set in stone.
  • Florida Football Insiders posted a list of potential free agent targets for the Buccaneers, and named DeMarco Murray and Kenny Vaccaro as possibilities. Murray would make for a solid one-two punch with rookie running back Ronald Jones, while Vaccaro would bring a veteran presence to a shaky pass defense.
  • Linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, the Rams‘ fifth-round pick, underwent surgery on his foot and is expected to return sometime during training camp, head coach Sean McVay told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry (Twitter link). Okoronkwo starred at Oklahoma in 2017, earning Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Big 12 after logging 17.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Bucs

David Tepper‘s $2.275 billion Panthers purchase price was not the high bid during this process. Albert Breer of SI.com reports Ben Navarro‘s bid came in closer to Jerry Richardson‘s desired $2.6 billion price. But NFL owners had long preferred Tepper, a part-owner of the Steelers, to Navarro. Richardson wanted the team to go to a Carolinian, and Navarro is a Charleston, S.C., native. However, Tepper was able to make his bid mostly in cash, whereas Navarro had to bring in partners some in the league’s power structure found unsatisfactory. The NFL “didn’t trust his money,” Breer writes, paving the way for Tepper. A credit card company mogul, Navarro encountered scrutiny from other owners, to the point he had to hire a PR firm to navigate obstacles during this high-profile pursuit. Additionally, fellow bidder Michael Rubin assembled a group of potential buyers that turned off some owners, Breer reports.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South, which involves the highest-profile player in the NBA’s Pacific Division.

  • Rubin attempted to bring in Steph Curry, a Charlotte native, but the NBA nixed that, Breer reports. A Curry/Rubin venture would have violated an NBA bylaw that prevents players from forming business partnerships with owners from other teams. The Golden State Warriors’ two-time MVP would have been working with a part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers in Rubin, and even though they would have been partners in another sport, that evidently wouldn’t have mattered.
  • Tepper will try to run the Panthers like the Steelers; he’s unlikely to change Carolina’s football operations at this point. In preparation for this entrance into the franchise-ownership game, Tepper consulted Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and VP of football and business administration Omar Khan about Panthers GM Marty Hurney and HC Ron Rivera. And Breer reports the Pittsburgh execs were staunch supporters of both Carolina decision-makers.
  • The Saints will convert UDFA tight end Nate Wozniak to tackle, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports. A University of Minnesota product who caught just 28 passes in four seasons, the 6-foot-10 Wozniak weighed only 268 pounds at his pro day. He’s coming in north of 280 now and is aiming to get to 300, per Katzenstein, who adds other teams pursued Wozniak in hopes of converting him to tackle.
  • A Buccaneers staffer since 2014, Brian McLaughlin will ascend to the role of a national scout. Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes McLaughlin will be part of National Football Scouting, of which 15 NFL teams are affiliated, and piece together early prospect rankings that help set up organizational scouting reports.

Panthers Announce Sale To David Tepper

It’s a done deal. On Wednesday morning, the Panthers officially announced the sale of the team to hedge fund manager David Tepper. Tepper will pay $2.2 billion in cash for the team plus $75MM down the line, pushing the total purchase price to $2.275 billion (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

Bringing the Panthers and the NFL to the Carolinas in 1993 was enormously fulfilling for Rosalind and me and all of our partners,” club founder Jerry Richardson said in a press release. “We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support over the last 25 years. You have taken the Panthers into your hearts and made them part of this warm and supportive community. We want to thank all of our past and present players, coaches and staff for their hard work in making the Panthers a great success both on the field and in the community. The personal relationships we have enjoyed have been very meaningful to us. I look forward to turning the stewardship of the Panthers over to David Tepper. I have enjoyed getting to know him in this process and am confident that he will provide the organization with great leadership in both its football and community initiatives.”

Given that he has been a minority owner of the Steelers since 2009, it is expected that the NFL will quickly approve the transaction during the spring league meeting later this mont in Atlanta. The business end of the deal should be finalized by July, per the team’s announcement.

I am thrilled to have been selected to be the next owner of the Carolina Panthers,” Tepper said. “I have learned a great deal about the community and the team over the past several months and look forward to becoming part of the Carolinas. I want to thank Jerry Richardson and the other Panthers partners for all they have done to establish and develop the NFL in the Carolinas. It has been a remarkable 25-year journey and I promise to build upon the Panthers’ success on the field and in the community.”

New Panthers Owner Unlikely To Alter Football Ops

Minority Steelers owner David Tepper was expected to formally purchase the Panthers today, and while he’ll assume control of the franchise in the near future, Tepper isn’t planning to overhaul Carolina’s front office or coaching staff, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

General manager Marty Hurney and head coach Ron Rivera are each under contract through the 2020 campaign, and given that Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported earlier today Tepper wants to bring the “Steeler Way” to Carolina, it’s no surprise he’s unwilling to make major changes upon takeover. Indeed, “continuity, stability, [and] progressive thinking on player contract extensions” are said to be Tepper’s initial goals, so keeping incumbent staff in place seems like an obvious strategy.

Rivera, of course, has enjoyed immense success as the Panthers’ head coach, but Hurney’s status as general manager seemed a bit more tenuous. Hurney, now in his second stint leading Carolina’s front office, only recently had the interim label removed from his title, and it was unclear whether new ownership would seek to retain him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

David Tepper To Purchase Panthers

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).

David Tepper Frontrunner To Buy Panthers?

The Panthers may be on the verge of having a new owner soon. David Tepper is the frontrunner to succeed Jerry Richardson and buy the Charlotte, N.C.-based franchise, Joe Person, Katherine Peralta and Rick Rothacker of the Charlotte Observer report.

Tepper refuted an April report that he was out of the mix to make this acquisition, and it appears the hedge-fund billionaire is close to moving forward with this purchase. Worth approximately $11 billion, the 60-year-old Tepper has the most capital of any of the men vying to buy the team, per the Observer trio. Tepper’s finances being the least complicated aided his bid, per Person, Peralta and Rothacker, who add Tepper was back in Charlotte on Wednesday meeting with team officials.

This comes after another potential buyer, Ben Navarro, wanted to involve Peyton Manning as a part-owner. Alan Kestenbaum and Michael Rubin represented the other bidders for the team. Richardson’s son, Mark, put weight behind Navarro to be his father’s successor. However, Tepper now appears to be leading the race, with NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reporting Jerry Richardson has zeroed in on Tepper. Although, the Observer reporters caution this deal is not finalized.

Rapoport adds (via Twitter) Tepper wants to keep the Panthers in Charlotte. This deal could be ready to be approved by the next set of owners’ meetings in Atlanta later this month, per Rapoport, who also reports Tepper is the only one of these potential buyers who could be approved by the upcoming meetings. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes he’d be “shocked” if Tepper wasn’t the next Panthers owner, adding this sale could be announced early next week.

The report indicating Tepper was out doesn’t appear to have been entirely off base, either, with La Canfora reporting Tepper has told confidants at multiple times during this process he was out. But evidently he’s back in and ready to finish the process. Additionally, La Canfora reports Manning was unlikely to join Navarro’s ownership group.

Since Tepper has been a part-owner of the Steelers since 2009, he also would not need to be approved by the NFL. Many NFL owners wanted Tepper to win this race, the New York Times reported in April.

David Tepper Still In Mix To Buy Panthers

A New York Times report indicated David Tepper was out of the mix to purchase the Panthers, but Tepper has insisted that’s not the case. The hedge-fund billionaire and part-owner of the Steelers said he still is in the mix.

I have to tell you, for me, I like the people down there. They remind me of my original hometown, Pittsburgh. The only thing I’m telling you is I haven’t dropped out,” Tepper said, via Katherine Peralta and Rick Rothacker of the Charlotte Observer. “We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Tepper remaining in the mix leaves he, Ben Navarro and Alan Kestenbaum vying to succeed Jerry Richardson as the Panthers’ owner. However, David Newton of ESPN.com reports an unnamed fourth candidate is still in the running. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com also tweets Tepper has called several people to confirm he’s still interested.

This is significant since Tepper is believed to be the candidate most preferred by the NFL’s current ownership base. Navarro is believed to have offered a would-be-record $2.6 billion, and the winning bid could be announced later this month. All three of the remaining candidates have visited Panthers headquarters.

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 SI.com 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 ESPN.com, 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.