Though it's still unclear whether Dan Snyder intends to sell a part, any or all of his Washington Commanders franchise, there's a growing sentiment around the league that the entire team will be up for sale.
That's according to multiple sources around the league who spoke with CBS Sports this week after the Commanders announced Wednesday they've hired a bank "to consider potential transactions."
One source who's familiar with the bidding process estimated the team would sell for between $5 billion and $6 billion.
It's possible Snyder is making a cash call here, hoping to sell a fraction of the franchise to someone in order to get an influx of cash that he can then use to fund a badly needed new stadium. But finding people to buy into a franchise with a history of controversy under Snyder's direction — with no direct line to a controlling ownership stake — would seem difficult.
It's also possible there would be no sale at all. One source has indicated perhaps Snyder is doing this to buy some time and get folks off his back as controversies and investigations grow.
Still, the news came just two weeks after Snyder said through a spokesperson that he and his wife, Tanya, would not consider selling the franchise. Colts owner Jim Irsay said at the league owners meetings in New York in October that there was merit to consider removing Snyder as owner of the Commanders amid several investigations. A source tells CBS Sports another owner expressed privately recently that they didn't believe Snyder would be able to emerge from the recent controversies maintaining ownership.
"I just don't think it'll be that cut and dried," one league source who's known Snyder for years said of a potential full sale of the team.
The NFL has two investigations open on Snyder, both led by former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White. One involves an allegation of sexual assault by a former Washington employee, and the other deals with alleged financial improprieties with the Commanders that date back more than a decade.
Earlier this week, ESPN reported the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of Virginia had opened a criminal investigation into financial improprieties allegations. The office declined comment to CBS Sports, but multiple sources said at least one person has been interviewed in relation to the possible investigation.
Roger Goodell and a league spokesman have said there's no timeline on when the White investigations will conclude, though one source indicated to CBS Sports recently that the conclusion was "more like weeks than months" away. The league has promised to make the report findings public, unlike the Beth Wilkinson investigation that resulted in a fine and suspension of Snyder that, according to the league but disputed by his lawyers, remains on-going.
Jason Friedman, a 24-year employee of the Washington franchise, told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in March about alleged financial improprieties that took place over several years at the club. With years-old emails he had saved prior to his firing in 2021, Friedman explained to the government the alleged scheme that would have the team sell tickets at one price and then log it at a lower price. Ultimately, the difference would be pocketed by the team rather than go into the revenue-sharing pool as required by the league's rules.
Friedman estimated this practice was done about a dozen times, and each time it would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Though Friedman did not directly implicate Snyder as having known about this alleged scheme, when asked if Snyder knew about it, Friedman said "I believe so."
Snyder has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
No matter the outcome of the investigations, the about-face for Snyder is significant. Much like how he said for years he wouldn't change the name of the team, he had similarly dug in his heels that he wouldn't consider selling the team as recently as October. Sources believe he's feeling the mounting pressure even as the majority of team owners have heeded the call of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to stay quiet publicly and wait for the investigations' findings.
"It's cumulative. Building is falling apart," said one league source of the troubles with Snyder, including the need for a new stadium. "Roll in some potential financial impropriety. It's just not a guy you want in the club."
Who could be next in the club? Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, wholesale mortgage lender Mat Ishbia, media mogul Byron Allen and private equity investor Joshua Harris would be leading candidates for controlling ownership, which would require the ability to write a check of at least $2 billion to even be considered.
Because the franchise would need a need stadium, and because local governments would seem to work with a new owner to achieve that goal, funds would be needed to make sure a new stadium happens, which could take the price down slightly. Essentially, you're buying a franchise and stadium, but the stadium is an ostensible teardown.
Allen would become the first Black controlling owner in NFL history should he ultimately get his way. Other interested parties would need to consider adding limited partners from diverse backgrounds, as the league has shown since before the Broncos sale that that was a key element to new ownership.
Yet still, Snyder wouldn't have to sell to the highest bidder. The Commanders wouldn't be an auction like the Broncos were, and Snyder could choose to whom he sells. Snyder choosing to sell to Bezos, owner of a newspaper Snyder feels has covered him unfairly, may not happen.
One league source wondered just how much Bezos is interested in the team. He owns the Washington Post, so his ties to the area are clear. Amazon Prime has partnered with the league to deliver Thursday Night Football. And he was beside Goodell quite conspicuously in the kickoff game between the Bills and Rams.
But Bezos, among the richest people in the world, also serves as someone who can drive the price up of any team if it's believed he's involved.
"If I'm the league, the longer I can keep him as a stalking horse, the better," one source said.