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NFL numbers indicate business is still booming

Former Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks signed a contract worth $16 million per year after being traded to the Rams in the offseason.
Former Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks signed a contract worth $16 million per year after being traded to the Rams in the offseason.(Jim Davis/Globe Staff file)

This item originally appeared as part of Ben Volin’s Sunday NFL notes.

■  The Packers released their annual statements last week, and boy, is business booming in the NFL. For the fiscal year ending in March, Green Bay generated $454.9 million in total revenue, up 4.9 percent from last year. Of that, $255.9 million came in the form of national revenue — money from TV contracts and league-wide revenue sharing. Put another way, all 32 teams received a quarter of a billion dollars before selling one ticket, beer, or T-shirt last year.

But that doesn’t necessarily prove that last year’s protests didn’t have any effect on the NFL’s business, either. National revenue, which represents 57 percent of the Packers’ revenue, is mostly derived from network TV contracts that were negotiated years ago. If the protests were going to hit a team anywhere, it would be with local revenue — ticket sales, concessions, etc., which makes up 43 percent.

The Packers generated $199 million of local revenue, up 0.8 percent, but they weren’t one of the “protesting” teams, either. It’s certainly possible that the Trump-NFL battle had some effect on local revenue in cities like Dallas, Houston, and Cincinnati. And owners don’t like to lose money.

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■  Franchise valuations continue to skyrocket.Stephen Ross bought the Dolphins for $1 billion in 2009, and they are already estimated at $2.575 billion, per Forbes. Shad Khan bought the Jaguars for $770 million in 2012, and Forbes estimates their value now at $2.075 billion, a 169.5 percent increase in just six years.

Forbes rated 29 of the 32 NFL teams among the 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world (only the Bengals, Lions, and Bills missed the cut). The Cowboys are No. 1 in the world at $4.8 billion, while the Patriots are No. 6 (and No. 2 in the NFL) at $3.7 billion.

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Why the massive spike? It’s hard not to see a connection to the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, which was a massive win for the owners and has the league printing money.

Price tag and value increase A look at the last six NFL teams that have sold and how much their value has increased since then.
Team Owner Year sold Price 2018 Forbes Value Percent increase
Panthers David Tepper 2018 $2.275b $2.3b 0
Bills Terry and Kim Pegula 2014 $1.4b $1.6b 14.30%
Jaguars Shad Khan 2012 $770m $2.075b 169.50%
Browns Jimmy Haslam 2012 $1.05b $1.95b 85.70%
Dolphins Stephen Ross 2009 $1b $2.575b 157.50%
Vikings Zygi Wilf 2005 $600m $2.4b 300%
Ravens Steve Bisciotti 2004 $600m $2.5b 317%

■  Watching Rob Gronkowski squabble annually with the Patriots for more money, and seeing Le’Veon Bell unable to come to terms on a long-term deal with the Steelers, drives home how backward the NFL can be.

Gronkowski and Bell are arguably two of the top three offensive weapons in the NFL, yet their teams can get away with not paying them as such simply because of the positions they play, tight end and running back.

Gronkowski is set to make $9 million this year, while the Steelers’ best offer to Bell reportedly topped out at $15 million per year. Meanwhile, Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks, who don’t even belong in the same sentence as Gronk and Bell, each signed contracts this offseason worth $16 million per year, simply because they play receiver.


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.