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The NFL’s Most Valuable Teams: A Look Into NFL Franchise Values

The NFL's Hall of Fame Game takes place Thursday, August 5 in Canton, Ohio.

The National Football League, North America’s undisputed sports giant, kicks off another season on Thursday night with the annual Hall of Fame Game.

The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers play in this year’s rendition of the game in a matchup likely to draw an inexplicably large viewership despite being a mediocre product – most of the best players will either play very little or not at all.

The NFL preseason is always a huge draw for both TV ratings and the gambling community as the sport grows to extraordinary levels of popularity in North America and around the globe.

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And given that popularity – even when the games feature players nobody has heard of – it should not be a surprise to learn how much the league’s franchises have skyrocketed in value in recent years.

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NFL average franchise value from 2000-2020

You will find more infographics at Statista

The numbers are staggering.

As you can see in the chart provided by Statista, the average NFL franchise had a value of about $423 million in 2000 – a sizable chunk of change for a sports franchise. But in the 20 years since, those average franchise values have grown to more than seven times that number.

NFL franchises were worth, on average, more than $3 billion in 2020, and in the last 10 years values have tripled.

The increases in value were “modest” from 2000 to 2013, only growing by about $100 million each year and actually falling from 2009 to 2010. But there was an almost $300-million jump from 2013 to 2014 and a jump of more than $500 million from 2014 to 2015.

Since then, the values had made significant gains in consecutive years, including a recent report from Forbes that showed the average franchise is now valued at around $3.5 billion, about a $500-million jump despite dealing with a pandemic.

The NFL is not unique in that the league’s value has increased in recent years, but it is unique in the scale of that growth when you compare the league to other major North American sports.

Major sports leagues by average franchise value in North America from 2007 to 2020

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As you can see in the chart supplied by Statista, NFL franchises have been consistently more valuable than their counterparts in the MLB, NBA and NHL over the last 15 years or so. And not only are the values higher on average, but NFL franchises saw the sharpest growth at any one point in that span.

However, the average value of an NBA franchise has gone from about $1.355 billion to $2.123 billion over the last four years – the quickest growth in any of the four sports in that span – overtaking MLB in average franchise value in the process.

Franchise Value of NFL teams in 2020

When it comes to which NFL franchises are the most valuable, it should come as no surprise that one of the teams playing in Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game tops the list.

The Dallas Cowboys led the way in 2020 at $5.7 billion, and a recent report from Forbes has the team listed at a whopping $6.5 billion for 2021. The New England Patriots, No. 2 in 2020 at $4.4 billion, are reportedly now worth $5 billion.

The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were listed at 29th in 2020’s list at $2.28 billion, but the team has reportedly made the biggest jump of any team as they’re now 21st with a value of $2.94 billion – a 29 percent increase in a year.

The bottom has also been raised as the “least valuable” team in 2020 was the Cincinnati Bengals at $2 billion, while that distinction is now held by the Buffalo Bills at a value of $2.27 billion.