UPDATE 2:52 p.m.
Cleveland Browns President Mike Holmgren confirms that the team is for sale by current owner Randy Lerner, with talks now underway with a Nashville, Tennessee buyer with billions of dollars to spend for one of the most valuable franchises in sports.
The Browns are worth nearly a billion dollars, according to most estimates. Tennessee billionaire Jimmy Haslam III, who's family started and still manages the Pilot-Flying J Travel Center and Truck Stops across the nation, is currently a minority owner in the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Haslam family also includes the current Governor of Tennessee.
The lawyer for the team, according to media reports, says there are no plans and no considerations to moving the Browns. Cleveland government officials also point out the Browns have a long-term lease at Cleveland Browns Stadium still in force.
Could the Cleveland Browns soon have a new owner?
There have been rumors and now current owner Randy Lerner has issued a statement saying that he is negotiating with Jimmy Haslam, who wants to make an investment in the team. Lerner did not specify whether that investment would make Haslam a partner or something more.
Jimmy Haslam III is the son of the man who founded the "Flying J" chain of truck and travel stops, and the family is worth billions. It's the 11th biggest privately-owned company in the world according to Forbes magazine.
Estimates peg the worth of the Browns franchise at just shy of a billion dollars, one of sports' most valuable properties. Both sides say they'll keep details private for the time being.
The statement in its entirety that was emailed to reporters:
(Browns news release) In connection with current rumors and press inquiries, I can report that I’ve been approached by Mr. Jimmy Haslam, who is interested in making an investment in the Cleveland Browns. We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private. Given that any transaction would require League approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season. We will share further details or make an announcement if it becomes necessary.