Clock ticking for Panthers to find new owner

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers will make the 24th pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night, and the clock is winding down on finding a new owner before the league owners meeting next month.

[READ MORE: Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to sell team at end of season]

There is an extra layer of vetting before a possible owner could even be approved. That vetting can't begin until a winning bidder emerges, and while there is no official deadline, it’s taking longer than expected to find a new owner.

There was optimism that the sale of the team would be a smooth and fast process when the Panthers season ended in January, according to Dan Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal.

“I believe there were unrealistic price expectations on the part of the Panthers ownership, so we're seeing a bit of a slowdown,” Kaplan said.

In less than a month, league owners will convene in Atlanta for the annual owners meeting, which is a perfect time for a vote to approve the sale but a winning bidder for the team has yet to emerge.

That’s just the start of the vetting process completed first by the NFL’s finance committee.

“It’s up to the individual finance committee members whether they want to go beyond, ‘Does this person have money? Will they have enough working capital?'” Kaplan said.

The more questions there are then that means more time it will take but Kaplan believes it is just a matter of time.

“The expectation is ownership of the Panthers would not be submitting a bidder to the NFL that could not meet approval,” Kaplan said.

That doesn't mean there won't be questions that need to be addressed by this key group of nine NFL owners.

[RELATED: Potential bidders for Panthers sale visit Queen City]

“There’s a lot of skepticism that this can get done by May 21, 22,” Kaplan said.

The NFL doesn't want to repeat the mistakes that Major League Baseball made in selling the Miami Marlins to an ownership group spearheaded by Derek Jeter. That group immediately slashed salaries after taking control because while they pulled together the money to buy the team, they didn't have the money to run it.