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Buffalo Bills sale: Terry Pegula headlines initial round of bidders

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The first round of bids on the Buffalo Bills are in, and if a New York Post report is accurate, Sabres owner Terry Pegula is already offering in excess of $1 billion.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Tuesday's 5 p.m. ET deadline for prospective owners to submit initial bids and indication of interest documents in the sale of the Buffalo Bills, there were four principal parties that reporters were focused on. Two of those four reportedly submitted bids on Tuesday, while it's looking likely that a third did, as well - but for a fourth well-known name, things are still up in the air.

Terry Pegula, owner of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and the best hope for fans interested in the Bills staying in Western New York, is among the confirmed bidders. Tim Graham of The Buffalo News and Adam Benigni of WGRZ both had the news on Tuesday evening, with the New York Post chiming in with a report that Pegula's initial offer exceeded $1 billion. (In fact, there is already word that his first, non-binding bid came in at $1.3 billion.)

A Toronto-based bidding group, headed by Jon Bon Jovi and including Larry Tanenbaum (CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) and the Rogers family, is another bidder. John Kryk of the Toronto Sun reports that the group submitted their bid, and one source tells Benigni the same thing. Without a doubt, Bon Jovi and Pegula are the two most notable names as this sale process moves forward. (Early rumors have their initial, non-binding bid at $1.2 billion.)

Michael Cohen, spokesman to Donald Trump, confirmed to pretty much everyone that asked on Tuesday that the real estate mogul submitted an initial bid. Trump told news outlets on Monday that he would be bidding, but also admitted that he was unlikely to eventually land the team.

As for former Sabres owner Tom Golisano, who sold that franchise to Pegula in 2011 and who had reportedly ramped up his interest in the Bills in recent weeks, his status remains unclear, per Benigni. If what Kryk is hearing is true, Golisano did not submit a bid on Tuesday, which might eliminate him from consideration - unless, that is, substantial bids will still be considered from those that didn't submit initially. That may be Golisano's plan of attack, per Graham.

Kryk also reported late Tuesday evening, citing one source, that only three initial bids were submitted on Tuesday, presumably from Pegula, Bon Jovi, and Trump. That bit of info, if accurate, might bolster the notion that other bidders, including Golisano, are operating under the impression that they can still make offers despite letting this initial deadline pass, and Kryk is hearing similar things about Golisano as Graham. Still, if true, three initial bids is a surprising development for the sale of a NFL team.

Morgan Stanley, the firm tasked with collecting bids, handling financial information and discussions, and thinning out the pool of candidates, is under no obligation to divulge the names of parties that submitted bids at any point in the sale process. According to Kryk, they can change the timeline of events at any point, but he's hearing that the trust selling the team is planning in taking the next two-plus weeks to identify and meet with finalists.