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Report: Seahawks could be put up for sale sooner than many expect

NFC Championship Game: Carolina Panthers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Two months remain in the 2022 NFL offseason until the Seattle Seahawks and other teams across the league report for training camp in late July. That said, a report Tuesday indicated that change could be coming in the not too distant future regarding the ownership of the team.

The team is currently owned by the estate of Paul Allen, who purchased the team in the 1990s and owned them until the time of his death a little over three and a half years ago. Since that time, Allen’s sister, Jody, has fulfilled the duties of the owner of the franchise as the trustee for Paul’s estate, however, according to a report Tuesday, that could change soon.

The reason this is in the news at this time likely has to do with the acceleration of the liquidation of Allen’s estate as 2022 opened.

Specifically, in order to understand why the sale of the team could be coming sooner rather than later, it is important to understand the composition Paul’s estate, which was estimated to be worth more than $20B at the time of his death. The most noteworthy parts of the estate were Vulcan Capital (estimated $10B in 2018), Vulcan Real Estate (estimated between $1.5B and $4.5B in 2018), Vulcan Sports and Entertainment (estimated between $3B and $4B in 2018). The estate certainly included, and continues to include, other assets, but the items listed are the main assets on which to focus in order to understand why the potential sale of the team has now become a topic of discussion. Assuming those valuations are correct, combined they would represent somewhere around three quarters of the estate, possibly more.

To dive right into the guts of it, the divestment of some of these assets by the estate appears to have accelerated once the calendar reached 2022. While the estate had worked to sell some assets in the years since Paul’s death, including the sale of his superyacht Octopus in the summer of 2021 and an Atherton, California property in 2020, among others. However, as noted the sale of estate assets has accelerated of late. In just the first few weeks of 2022 sales out of the estate included:

Depending on the valuation one assigns to these assets, that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $10B of the estate sold in the first eight weeks of 2022, which is somewhere in the ballpark of 40 to 50 percent of the entire estate. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to do the math and figure out that if around half the estate was sold early this year, and the Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers likely make up the majority of the remaining estate, the amount of assets left to sell is quickly dwindling.

So, that brings the discussion as to whether or not a sale is imminent, though the answer to that question likely depends on how one defines “imminent”. It’s certainly highly unlikely any sale would take before the end of this year, but a sale in 2023 or 2024 is not out of the question. As for whether or not there is a deadline, according to Art Thiel, that answer is yes, but it is certainly not an imminent deadline.

That deadline remains more than six years away, so it won’t be the reason the team is sold anytime soon. However, as John Canzano notes in his report, Jody may be looking to remain as owner or part owner of the franchise. Specifically, from Canzano (Author’s Note: Bolding added for emphasis):

Insiders expect the Blazers to be positioned for auction in the next 6-18 months. The Seahawks could follow shortly after, but sources say Jody Allen may be wrangling to keep a piece of the NFL franchise.

That’s important because the value of NFL franchises is expected to rapidly appreciate under the new TV contract, and waiting until the 2028 deadline to sell the team out of the estate could see the valuation of the team balloon significantly from its current level. That could potentially make it more difficult for Jody to retain a portion of the team, or result in the piece that is kept being smaller than if the transaction had been consummated earlier.

Putting it all together, the clock is ticking on the deadline to sell the franchise, and Jody’s best bet to retain a larger portion of the franchise may be to make that sale sooner rather than later. How quickly it will actually happen is anyone’s guess, but what is not up for debate is that at some point the team will be sold.