Cowboys, Patriots Top Forbes' Most Valuable NFL Teams List: Average Value of $3.5B

Adam WellsAugust 5, 2021

In this general, overall, view, a field-sized American flag is displayed with the Dallas Cowboys logo projected on the large video screen during the playing of the national anthem at AT&T Stadium before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
AP Photo/Roger Steinman

For the 15th straight year, the Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable franchise in the NFL. 

Per Mike Ozanian and Christina Settimi of Forbes, the Cowboys' $6.5 billion in total value is a 14 percent increase from last year. They have a significant advantage over the No. 2 team on the list (New England Patriots, $5 billion). 

The New York Giants ($4.85 billion), Los Angeles Rams ($4.8 billion) and Washington Football Team ($4.2 billion) round out the top five most valuable NFL franchises.

Overall, the average team value is $3.48 billion. Ozanian and Settimi noted the 14 percent increase from 2020 is the largest gain in five years. 

According to Ozanian and Settimi, the rise in value came despite teams seeing their average operating income go from $109 million in 2019 to $7.1 million last season. 

The Cowboys ($280.4 million) and Patriots ($142.4 million) were the only teams with an operating income of at least $100 million.

Twenty of the league's 32 franchises posted a negative operating income, led by the Los Angeles Chargers (-$48.7 million) and San Francisco 49ers (-$45.4 million). 

One of the biggest reasons that NFL franchises remain incredibly valuable and continue to rake in money is the income generated from television contracts. 

Per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic, the league made $9.89 billion through television contracts and sponsorship deals in 2020. 

That number figures to go up after the NFL signed new TV deals with Amazon, CBS, ESPN/ABC, Fox and NBC worth up to $105 billion over 11 years from 2023-2033. 

The gap between the Cowboys and every other franchise in the NFL is significant. Their $1.5 billion edge over the Patriots at No. 2 is the same as the gap between New England and the Seattle Seahawks at No. 12 ($3.5 billion). 

Despite reaching the AFC Championship Game last season, the Buffalo Bills are the least valuable franchise in the NFL at $2.27 billion. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, the two teams that met in Super Bowl LV, rank 21st and 22nd in franchise value.