Every year, Forbes financial experts cast their eyes on the various sports teams and assign them a value based on numerous factors. They include the team’s brand, sponsorship deals, debt, revenue, and operating income. As August drew to a close, Forbes released its valuation of the 32 franchises that make up the National Football League (NFL), and they make interesting reading.
1. Dallas Cowboys – $9 Billion
The Dallas Cowboys retained their status as the NFL’s most valuable team, with Forbes pricing the Cowboys at an almost unbelievable $9 billion. That valuation is 13% higher than in 2022, thanks partly to the team reaching the Divisional Playoffs and reducing its debt to only 3% of the outfit’s valuation.
The Dallas Cowboys have won the coveted Super Bowl five times in their long history, but they have not experienced such glory since 1995. Despite this, Cowboys fans are incredibly loyal and partake in online betting in Texas, hoping to see their team become NFL champions again. Those fans generated $109 million in gate receipts last year, with revenue per fan listed at $86. Overall, the Cowboys topped the charts for most revenue ($1.1 billion) and operating income ($500 million) by some distance.
2. New England Patriots – $7 Billion
The New England Patriots are valued at $7 billion, making them the second most valuable NFL franchise. The current Patriots team is a shadow of its former self, a team going through a transitional period. However, its three Super Bowl victories between 2001-2004 and another three from 2014-2018 have helped the Patriots attract new fans from far and wide.
Patriots’ $684 million of revenue is the fourth-most in the NFL, and its $206 million of operating income places the Patriots third.
3. Los Angeles Rams – $6.9 Billion
The Los Angeles Rams’ $6.9 billion valuation ranks them third in the NFL, although they have the most debt-to-value ratio of the other 31 teams. A worrying 46% of the Rams’ valuation is debt. Part of that debt comes from the $5 billion cost of the Rams’ SoFi Stadium, which only opened in 2020.
Although the Rams’ $686 million revenue is the second highest in the league, it also spends $330 million a year on player salaries, which reduces the Rams’ operating income to $125 million, the second-lowest of the most valuable top ten.
4. New York Giants – $6.8 Billion
Despite a relative lack of success on the football field, the New York Giants are among the most famous teams worldwide. Forbes values the Giants at $6.8 billion, a healthy return on the initial $150 million Steven Tisch paid for the franchise in 1991.
The Giants returned to the playoffs last season for the first time Since 2016 and only the second time since 2011. If they can build on that success in 2023, the Giants’ valuation should soar when Forbes releases its next list.
5. Chicago Bears – $6.3 Billion
With a $6.3 billion valuation, the Chicago Bears are the fifth most valuable NFL team, which is strange because they have struggled recently. They won six and lost 11 games in 2021 and were worse in 2022, with a 3-14 record, yet the Bears’ valuation shot up by 9%. The fresh television deals are primarily responsible for increasing the Bears and other teams’ valuations.
6. Las Vegas Raiders – $6.2 Billion
The Las Vegas Raiders manage to squeeze out an average of $119 from every fan, which is why the Raiders rank second regarding revenue. Raiders enjoyed $729 million of revenue last year, but its mere $72 million operating income is the fourth-lowest in the NFL.
Offering quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a $72.75 million three-year contract hurt the Raiders’ bottom line. Still, he will be worth that colossal salary if he manages to guide the Raiders to the playoffs or their first Super Bowl victory in 40 years.
7. Las Vegas Raiders – $6.2 Billion
The New York Jets are valued at $6.1 billion, although that valuation could drop slightly in the next year or two because of how its star players’ contracts are structured. The Jets signed veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers on a two-year $75 million contract. Rodgers’ cap hit in 2023 is only $1.2 million, but almost $108 million in 2024.
8. Washington Commanders – $6.05 Billion
The Washington Commanders, formerly the Washington Redskins, are something of an anomaly in the latest NFL team valuations due to the recent purchase of the franchise. A consortium led by Joshua Harris paid $6.05 billion to the Snyder family, a record-setting price for an NFL franchise, some $1.5 billion more than the Denver Broncos sold for in 2022.
Are the Commanders worth such a lofty valuation? Their results on the field do not suggest so, but the team has a vast catchment area and is still a well-known team despite the recent rebranding.
9. San Francisco 49ers – $6 Billion
The York Family bought the San Francisco 49ers for a mere $13 million in 1977, and that same franchise is now worth a cool $6 billion. The people behind the scenes at the 49ers are astute businesspeople, which shows in the team’s $622 million revenue and $152 million operating profit.
The investment arm of the 49ers took over English soccer club Leeds United in July 2023. They initially invested in 2018, increased their stake, and then agreed on a complete takeover.
10. Philadelphia Eagles – $5.8 Billion
The Philadelphia Eagles have reached the Super Bowl twice in six seasons, and that recent success has helped push up gate receipts and revenue per fan figures. Revenue weighed in at $598 million, with operating income tipping the scales at $187 million.
Those figures will need to continue rising because of the cap hit caused by quarterback Jalen Hurts’ contract. Hurts put pen to paper on a $255 million five-year deal that will see a cap hit of $13.5 million in 2024 but $54 million in 2028.
If you ever needed proof that professional sports is big business, you only need to look at the NFL. The ten most valuable franchises have a combined value of $66.15 billion, and those valuations are only moving in one direction. Even the least valuable of the 32 teams, the Cincinnati Bengals, are valued at a staggering $3.5 billion!