The NFL’s Most Valuable Teams (And Why They’re Worth So Damn Much)
— 12 September 2023

The NFL’s Most Valuable Teams (And Why They’re Worth So Damn Much)

— 12 September 2023

In Australia, it’s a little hard to wrap our heads around just how massive the NFL is and how valuable its teams are. While there are certainly people who watch it here, it hasn’t found a home in Aussie culture quite like other international sports have (and there isn’t anything close to something resembling an equivalent).

It’s a self-sustaining national product aimed at the biggest professional sporting market in the world: it knows its audience and it gives them exactly what they want. And the proof is in the pudding. Last season, the NFL was responsible for 82 of the 100 most-watched TV programs in the United States; and the is set to earn a projected minimum of $125.5 billion from broadcasting deals over the next decade.

With a new season officially underway, it’s worth diving deeper into the absolute powerhouse that is the National Football League.

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The $6.05 billion acquisition of the Washington Commanders by the Josh Harris-led consortium — that’s 8% more than Forbes’ valuation the year prior and 30% higher than the sale price of the Denver Broncos last August — completely changed the game. If you’re in the market to own a franchise, the average NFL team price has inflated by 14% since last year and currently sits at around $5.1 billion.

For reference, the 30 teams in the NBA have an average value of $2.86 billion and the MLB’s 30 teams in the MLB have an average value of $2.17 billion. The aggregate price of all 32 NFL teams —$163 billion— could buy you every professional baseball and basketball team in the United States.

Even if you look at other massively popular sports and the most valuable teams from around the world, all of them pale in comparison to the NFL. The top 30 most valuable soccer/football teams in the world have an average asking price of around $2.17 billion, and the average Formula 1 team is around $1.88 billion. The NFL is simply the most scalable business in sports and everything else is fighting for second place.

The team sitting atop this massive pile is the NFL’s $9 billion Dallas Cowboys (owned by Jerry Jones), which makes it the most valuable sports team in the world. The franchise generated an operating income (EBITDA) of $500 million — 133% more than any other team in the NFL.

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This is a great deal more than the Dallas Cowboys’ $3.2 billion valuation in 2014; although it was still the world’s most valuable sports team back then. But yes: $9 billion is an especially large figure considering “America’s Team” was once bought for a relatively modest $150 million by Jones in 1989, and the story of his success will actually be the subject of an upcoming documentary that Netflix paid nearly $50 million for.

It’s especially impressive that NFL teams are so expensive considering the stringent rules on purchasing them, which limits who can buy one even if they choose to bid beyond the eyewatering price tag (see: Jeff Bezos). The league currently stipulates that a general partner must own a minimum of 30% of the team, compared to the NBA and MLB’s 15% and the NHL’s 20% rules, respectively. Prospective buyers are also only permitted to have up to $1.1 billion worth of debt.

But those who can, generally do. With so much money to be made from stadium economics (including non-NFL ticket revenue), merchandising agreements with companies like Fanatics, advertising/sponsorships, as well as a salary cap of $208.6 million per team last season… It’s the easiest $5.1 billion you’ll ever spend.

The Most Valuable NFL Teams Ranked (2023)

  1. Dallas Cowboys ($9 billion)
  2. New England Patriots ($7 billion)
  3. Los Angeles Rams ($6.9 billion)
  4. New York Giants ($6.8 billion)
  5. Chicago Bears ($6.3 billion)
  6. Las Vegas Raiders ($6.2 billion)
  7. New York Jets ($6.1 billion)
  8. Washington Commanders ($6.05 billion)
  9. San Francisco 49ers ($6 billion)
  10. Philadelphia Eagles ($5.8 billion)
  11. Miami Dolphins ($5.7 billion)
  12. Houston Texans ($5.5 billion)
  13. Denver Broncos ($5.1 billion)
  14. Seattle Seahawks ($5 billion)
  15. Atlanta Falcons ($4.7 billion)
  16. Minnesota Vikings ($4.65 billion)
  17. Baltimore Ravens ($4.63 billion)
  18. Pittsburgh Steelers ($4.63 billion)
  19. Cleveland Browns ($4.62 billion)
  20. Green Bay Packers ($4.6 billion)
  21. Tennessee Titans ($4.4 billion)
  22. Indianapolis Colts ($4.35 billion)
  23. Kansas City Chiefs ($4.3 billion)
  24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4.2 billion)
  25. Los Angeles Chargers ($4.15 billion)
  26. Carolina Panthers ($4.1 billion)
  27. New Orleans Saints ($4.08 billion)
  28. Jacksonville Jaguars ($4 billion)
  29. Arizona Cardinals ($3.8 billion)
  30. Buffalo Bills ($3.7 billion)
  31. Detroit Lions ($3.6 billion)
  32. Cincinnati Bengals ($3.5 billion)

NOTE: All $$$ = USD

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