The NFL has some of the most valuable entities, but not all are equally profitable. Obviously, this changes year to year, but for an NFL franchise to be considered profitable, it must have a positive operating income.
Operating income is defined as profit generated from operations after deducting operating expenses.
Based on data available for the 2020 NFL season, the following franchises are the most profitable in the NFL going into the 2021 season.
Top 5 Profitable NFL franchises for 2021
#1 - Dallas Cowboys
Operating Income: 280 Million USD
The Dallas Cowboys are not just the most valuable NFL franchise, they remain the most profitable as well. While the Dallas Cowboys may not have reached the Super Bowl recently, in terms of valuation and profitability, they have no peers.
Their total valuation is 6.5 billion USD, which puts them not just at the top of the NFL, but across global sports.
#2 - New England Patriots
Operating Income: 142 Million USD
The New England Patriots may have lost Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and have lost the sheen of the Super Bowl years. But during the dynasty they created, they created legions of fans and became one of the most popular teams around the world.
It shows in their operating income; the only one apart from the Cowboys to exceed 100 million USD last year.
#3 - Jacksonville Jaguars
Operating Income: 69 Million USD
The Jacksonville Jaguars have not had the greatest of successes on the football field in the last few seasons. They were hoping for a fresh start with Urban Meyer, but that has not quite materialized. But that has not stopped them from being profitable. Coming into this season, they had quite a decent operating income.
#4 - Los Angeles Rams
Operating Income: 37 Million USD
The Los Angeles Rams are looking to this year be genuine Super Bowl contenders. They arguably have the best defense in the league and they have Matthew Stafford who is playing at MVP caliber level. Off the field has not been too shabby for them either, with their operating income coming in at 37 million USD in 2020.
#5 - Washington Football Team
Operating Income: 25 Million USD
The Washington Football Team is in the midst of an epic controversy that has already ensnared Jon Gruden. On the field, their performances have been middling. Off the field, though, they have remained highly profitable, counting themselves among the top 5 most profitable NFL franchises of 2020.
Beyond the top 5 profitable NFL franchises
#6 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Operating Income: 24 Million USD
Next up on the list of the most profitable NFL franchises are serial winners the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have not had the best of seasons and Ben Roethlisberger seems to have seen an irreversible dip in form. But off the field, they still command attention with their revenues generating a healthy profit.
#7 - Kansas City Chiefs
Operating Income: 9 Million USD
The Kansas City Chiefs have reached back-to-back Super Bowls and won one of them. This has definitely helped in increasing their revenues and they will be looking to keep that streak going. But it has so far not proved as easy this season with them having a losing record after the first five weeks of the season. They will be looking for a quick turnaround to remain profitable off the field as well.
#8 - New York Jets
Operating Income: 8.4 Million USD
The New York Jets may have been a shambles in the NFL for years, but that has not stopped them from being profitable. Quite possibly because of their healthy operating income, they have not quite felt the pinch of their awful performances in the NFL. They will be looking to change their on-field fortunes this year, but that does not seem so likely at the moment.
# 9 - Denver Broncos
Operating Income: 8.2 Million USD
The Denver Broncos came into this NFL season with a perfectly healthy operating income. They began the season brightly, too, before stuttering in their last two games against the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They will be hoping to recapture their form soon.
#10 - Miami Dolphins
Operating Income: 7.9 Million USD
The Miami Dolphins entered this season being profitable and then got a win against their division rival, the New England Patriots. It has gone downhill since and there is a real prospect they will have to write this season off. Their hope will be that the repercussions do not follow them to the bank.
#11 - Cleveland Browns
Operating Income: 5.7 Million USD
The Cleveland Browns have stopped being the joke of the NFL and it shows on the field. Off the field, they have perhaps one of the most loyal fanbases and it is not a surprise to see them on the list of profitable franchises.
#12 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Operating Income: 1.9 Million USD
The final team with a positive operating income entering the 2021 NFL season were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They earned a lot from Tom Brady coming in, which immediately increased revenue. Further, as is nearly always the case with Tom Brady, they went on to win the Super Bowl and that helped them become even more profitable.