Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots Headline Forbes List of NFL Team Valuations

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2014

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 9:  Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys takes charge in the huddle against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter of a preseason game on August 9, 2013 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Raiders won 19-17.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys haven't qualified for the NFL playoffs since 2009, and whether they still deserve the label of "America's Team" is up for debate. That said, one constant remains for at least another year: They are the most valuable franchise in the National Football League.     

Forbes magazine released its annual ranking of teams based on the overall franchise value. Mike Ozanian of the outlet notes the Cowboys finished on top for the eighth straight year at $3.2 billion, which is $600 million more than the New England Patriots, who rated second:

For the eighth consecutive year the Dallas Cowboys, worth $3.2 billion, are the league’s most valuable team. The only sports team worth more is Real Madrid, valued at $3.4 billion, while another Spanish soccer team, Barcelona, is tied with the Cowboys. Despite making only three postseason appearances over past decade, the Cowboys posted the NFL’s highest revenue ($560 million) and operating income ($246 million) in 2013.

Here's a look at the complete list:

Forbes' 2014 NFL Team Valuations
1Dallas Cowboys $3.2 billion
2New England Patriots $2.6 billion
3Washington Redskins $2.4 billion
4New York Giants $2.1 billion
5Houston Texans $1.85 billion
6New York Jets $1.8 billion
7Philadelphia Eagles $1.75 billion
8Chicago Bears $1.7 billion
9San Francisco 49ers $1.6 billion
10Baltimore Ravens $1.5 billion
11Denver Broncos $1.45 billion
12Indianapolis Colts $1.4 billion
13Green Bay Packers $1.375 billion
14Pittsburgh Steelers $1.35 billion
15Seattle Seahawks $1.33 billion
16Miami Dolphins $1.3 billion
17Carolina Panthers $1.25 billion
18Tampa Bay Buccaneers $1.225 billion
19Tennessee Titans $1.16 billion
20Minnesota Vikings $1.15 billion
21Atlanta Falcons $1.125 billion
22Cleveland Browns $1.12 billion
23New Orleans Saints $1.11 billion
24Kansas City Chiefs $1.1 billion
25Arizona Cardinals $1 billion
26San Diego Chargers $995 million
27Cincinnati Bengals $990 million
28Oakland Raiders $970 million
29Jacksonville Jaguars $965 million
30Detroit Lions $960 million
31Buffalo Bills $935 million
32St. Louis Rams$930 million

Ozanian went into detail as to how the valuations are determined:

Forbes compiles its valuations primarily based on data and information from sports bankers, who provided insight on team and league financial information, several NFL team executives, who confirm such details as league licensing agreements, public documents, like this Moody’s report on the New York Jets debt at MetLife Stadium, and this Fitch report, that contains information on the league’s television deals, trade publications like Team Marketing, which provide guidance on ticket and concession prices, and consulting firms like CSL, that publish reports on stadium financing. We also pore over the leases of teams that play in publicly owned stadiums for details about expenses and revenue.

The Cowboys may be worth more than $3 billion, but nobody should drive up to AT&T Stadium in a Brink's truck looking to buy.

Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News previously passed along comments from team chief operating officer Stephen Jones, son of owner Jerry Jones, on KTCK 1310 about the team's value.

"All I can tell you is it doesn't matter what's the number, Jerry's not selling," he said. "Only he can make that decision. It's kind of fruitless to even discuss it."

Newy Scruggs of NBC Sports Radio commented on the Cowboys' evaluation:

While the Dallas organization seemingly won't be changing hands anytime soon, one franchise valuation that has already generated interest is that of the Buffalo Bills. The team, which is currently up for sale, ranks second to last at $935 million.

At the very least, it's a number to keep in mind as bidders prepare to make formal offers. John Wawrow of The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the final stages of the bidding process are expected to take place over the next few weeks:

A new owner is still expected to be identified by October, but it's not certain whether it will be in time to be approved by NFL owners at league meetings in early October. And that approval would come only after the prospective candidate's background and finances are vetted and approved by the league's finance committee.

Since it's a bidding war, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Bills' sale price winds up going over $1 billion. As always, the team values from a third party and what an ownership group is willing to pay to complete the deal are usually two different things.

All told, 25 of the league's 32 teams now carry values of at least $1 billion. The average NFL team is currently worth $1.43 billion, 23 percent more than last year, per Ozanian. The Cowboys, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins and New York Giants all saw their values climb by 39 percent or more the past year.

To compare across other North American pro sports leagues, the average MLB team value is $811 million and NBA is $634 million.  

Such valuations showcase the immense size and power of the NFL, and it wouldn't be a surprise if all of the teams reach the $1 billion plateau within the next few years.

That's mostly because the league is a cash cow. Even the St. Louis Rams, which finished last in this year's Forbes valuation, reportedly generated revenue of $250 million last year. That points toward continued growth.