Michael Rubin

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.

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 ESPN.com (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 ESPN.com (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 ESPN.com 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.

Rubin Eyeing Diddy, Curry For Panthers Bid

We heard earlier this week that Michael Rubin is “considered a serious bidder in the race to buy” the Panthers organization. However, it sounds like the Fanatics owner won’t be the only big name in his bid. ESPN’s David Newton reports that music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and NBA star Steph Curry “are among a strong, diverse group” of potential minority owners that Rubin has been putting together. An owner is allowed to have up to 25 members in his ownership group.

Curry and Combs have both previously expressed interest in being part-owners of the Panthers. Diddy is currently valued at $820MM, while Curry, who went to high school in Charlotte, took home an estimated $47.3MM in 2017. While the duo might not have enough cash to be a majority owner, Newton points out that they “have the robust diversity Rubin is looking for in partners.” The two will likely join Rubin’s effort to own the Panthers, although no agreement has been finalized.

Rubin, who owns a stake in the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils and Premier League team Crystal Palace, is estimated to be worth $3 billion. The potential owner is primarily competing with two other serious candidates: hedge fund billionaire David Tepper and debt collector Ben Navarro. However, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that there have been six to eight “viable bidders” for the team.

Formal bids are expected to be due in a couple of weeks, as the NFL would like to get a deal approved before the owners meetings in May. Following allegations of work misconduct, owner Jerry Richardson announced that he was selling the organization back in December.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Michael Rubin Considered “Serious Bidder” For Panthers

It appears that another bidder has expressed interest in buying the Carolina Panthers. ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell reports that Fanatics owner Michael Rubin is “considered a serious bidder in the race to buy” the organization.

Rubin, who owns a stake in the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils and Premier League team Crystal Palace, is estimated to be worth $3 billion. As Rovell notes, NFL owners are already familiar with Rubin, as Fanatics runs the NFL’s online store and sells more licensed gear than any other business. Last year, NFL owners paid $95MM for a three-percent stake in the company.

Rubin would be required to sell his stake in the 76ers, according to Rovell. The reporter notes that the part-owner has been popular among players in Philly due to his hands-on approach. At 45-years-old, Rubin would be the second-youngest owner behind Jed York of the 49ers (37 years old).

Rovell writes that Rubin is primarily competing with two other serious candidates: hedge fund billionaire David Tepper and debt collector Ben Navarro. However, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that there have been six to eight “viable bidders” for the team.

Formal bids are expected to be due in a couple of weeks, as the NFL would like to get a deal approved before the owners meetings in May. According to Rovell, Forbes previously valued the franchise at $2.3 billion. Following allegations of work misconduct, owner Jerry Richardson announced that he was selling the organization back in December.