Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, after months if not years of flat denials that the team is for sale, is selling the team. Amazingly, as Weaver continues his months if not years of flat denials that the team won’t move from Jacksonville, people actually believe him.
The most important point emerging from Tuesday’s frenetic events and developments regarding the Jaguars is that no one should accept at face value Weaver’s denial that the team will move, because Weaver has shown that his denial of a sale can’t be taken at face value.
Just this month, the franchise issued a statement that “Wayne Weaver is not selling the team.”
The fact that the agreement to sell the team contains no clause requiring Shahid Khan to keep the team in Jacksonville confirms that a move remains on the table. It would have been easy for Weaver to make it harder for Khan to move the team. Weaver, for example, could have insisted that the agreement contain a clause requiring Khan to pay a prohibitive amount of money to Weaver if Khan were to move the team before a specific date in the future. But since such a clause surely would have reduced the purchase price paid to Weaver, Weaver likely opted not to insist on such a commitment.
Instead, the only thing keeping the team in place will be a stadium lease that runs through 2029, which can be abandoned if the team demonstrates three consecutive years of losses or proves that the city has failed to maintain the stadium. Though plenty of folks in Jacksonville understandably cling to those terms as ensuring that the team won’t leave for nearly two decades at the earliest, everything is negotiable. And since Khan won’t have to make a balloon payment of $100 million or more to Weaver if Khan leaves Jacksonville before some specific date in the future, Khan and/or the folks in L.A. who want to move a team there will be able to devote all available cash to procuring a release from the remaining terms of the lease.
Given that the Jaguars face an ongoing challenge when it comes to selling tickets, it was important for Weaver to keep his efforts to sell the team under wraps, until the team was sold. For those same reasons, Khan will have to keep any efforts to move the team under wraps, until the team is moved.
And so, just as Weaver denied that the team was for sale while he worked behind the scenes to sell it, it would be naive to assume that Khan isn’t working behind the scenes to move the team, even if he continues to deny any intention to move it.