Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver fired longtime coach Jack Del Rio on Tuesday after a 3-8 start and agreed to sell the National Football Leagueâ€™s Jaguars to Pakistani-American businessman Shahid Khan of Illinois. League sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that the sale is estimated to be between $750 and $800 million.
â€œItâ€™s a little bittersweet, honestly, that it came as soon as it did,â€ Weaver announced. â€œBut the main motivation for the exit strategy was to find someone that has the same passion about the NFL, had the same passion about football in Jacksonville as we do, and I found that person.â€
â€œWayneâ€™s legacy will be lasting, and I will always be grateful for Wayneâ€™s trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community,â€ the 61-year-old Khan said in a statement.
Born in Pakistan, Khan left home at age 16 to attend the University of Illinois. He graduated in 1971, a year after he started working for Flex-N-Gate Corp. in Urbana, Ill. He purchased the company in 1980. Today, Flex-N-Gate is a major manufacturer of bumper systems for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles built in North America.
â€œHeâ€™s going to buy a home here in Jacksonville. Heâ€™s going to spend time here in Jacksonville,â€ Weaver said of Khan. â€œHeâ€™s going to keep the Jaguars management group intact. Heâ€™s keeping the Jaguars staff intact. He has a great admiration for what weâ€™ve been able to accomplish here and the way we run our business here so heâ€™s keeping all that intact.â€
While Weaver is confident Khan will keep the team in Jacksonville, there is nothing written in the deal which obligates Khan to do that. Weaverâ€™s confidence stems from assurances Khan has made to him personally and the fact that the Jaguarsâ€™ lease to play at EverBank Field runs through the 2029 season. If the Jaguars wanted to leave before the end of the deal, the lease requires the team to prove they had lost money in three consecutive seasons or to convince a local judge that the city was failing to properly maintain the stadium.
â€œItâ€™s pretty hard to put something in writing saying you have to do something but you have to trust individualsâ€™ integrity and I have no doubt that Shahid is going to do what he plans to do,â€ Weaver said. â€œI had to be comfortable that his plan was to keep the team in Jacksonville. Thereâ€™s not a doubt in my mind that this team will be in Jacksonville.â€
Khan tried to purchase controlling interest in the NFLâ€™s St. Louis Rams last year. But minority owner Stan Kroenke pulled an end-around and exercised his right to purchase full control of the franchise. Khanâ€™s purchase of the Jaguars is subject to NFL approval. League owners will vote to ratify the deal December 14th, and if it passes it would become official on January 4th.