The Least Valuable NFL Team Is Worth 2.5 Times Less Than the Most Valuable

Forbes recently revealed the valuations of each NFL franchise. Every team is worth a lot by most standards. The lowest valued team is worth $1.9 billion while the highest-valued NFL team is at $5.5 billion. So, which is the most valued team, which is the least valued team, and how did Forbes come up with this data?

How Forbes determined the value of each NFL team

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the Cleveland Browns talks with cornerback Adoree' Jackson of the Tennessee Titans
Odell Beckham Jr. of the Cleveland Browns talks with Adoree’ Jackson of the Tennessee Titans | 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Forbes researched each NFL team’s value, operating income, and the percentage by which the team’s value increased over the past year. Here’s the data they used to come to their conclusions: 

“Revenues and operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) are for the 2018 season and net of stadium debt service … We employ the cash basis, rather than the accrual basis, of accounting. Team values are enterprise value (equity plus net debt) and include the economics of the team’s stadium but not the value of its real estate.”

The NFL’s most valuable teams are some of the league’s most successful and prominent. The least valuable teams have struggled to be competitive or play in smaller markets. 

The most valuable NFL team

With a valuation of $4.9 billion, the Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable team in the NFL. This comes as no surprise. Often called “America’s Team,” the Cowboys are one of the league’s most popular framchises. They play in one of the biggest states in the country and have a national following.

Often featured often on national TV and primetime games, the Cowboys also have a massive venue, AT&T Stadium, built within the last decade. It hosts a variety of sporting events from college and high school football to boxing matches. 

The five least valuable NFL teams

Not every team is as highly valued as Dallas. Forbes’ list also revealed the teams with the lowest valuations. Do any of the least valuable teams surprise you?

5. Cleveland Browns: $2.175 billion 

With an operating income of $32 million, the Browns are owned by Jimmy and Dee Haslam. Cleveland has one of the most loyal fanbases in football. After two years of going 1-31, they’ve improved somewhat in recent seasons even if they’re not quite contenders yet.

4. Tennessee Titans: $2.15 billion

Owned by Amy Strunk Adams, the daughter of late owner Bud Adams, the Titans have an operating income of $53 million. At a crossroads this season, Tennessee’s franchise quarterback from the 2015 NFL Draft, Marcus Mariota, has not panned out. The Titans will likely seek another QB after benching Mariota this season. 

3. Cincinnati Bengals: $2 billion

Mike Brown owns the Bengals and serves as the general manager. He inherited the team from his father Paul Brown, the former coach of the Cleveland Browns. With an operating income is $58 million, the Bengals are one of the worst NFL teams this season after Marvin Lewis led them to several playoff appearances over the past decade. 

2. Detroit Lions: $1.95 billion

The Ford family — descendants of auto manufacturer Henry Ford — owns the Lions, a team worth “only” $1.95 billion. With an operating income of $73 million, the team has sprinkled in playoff appearances here and there over the past few decades. Unfortunately, the Lions have been largely ineffective.

1. Buffalo Bills: $1.9 billion

The Bills have two strikes against them: They play in a small market, and they haven’t been an elite team since the early ’90s. The Bills are owned by Kim and Terry Pegula and have an operating income of $82 million.