The Dallas Cowboys have retained the top spot in the list of most valuable teams in American football’s National Football League for a 16th consecutive year, according to the annual valuation rankings published by Forbes.

The Cowboys, who have only made the playoffs four times in the last 12 seasons, are now worth $8 billion, up 23% from last year, followed by the New England Patriots ($6.4 billion), Super Bowl champions the Los Angeles Rams ($6.2 billion), the New York Giants ($6 billion), and the Chicago Bears ($5.8 billion).

The report revealed that the Cowboys also became the first team ever to generate over $1 billion in revenue last year, largely due to several new lucrative sponsorship deals, including a $200-million, ten-year agreement with US brewing giant Molson Coors.

An additional $220 million was gained through adverts and sponsorship deals at the team’s AT&T Stadium – more than twice that of any other team.

The Cowboys’ operating income of $465.9 million was also the highest in the league, eclipsing that of the second-placed Patriots ($230.5 million).

The team is owned by Jerry Jones, who bought the team for $140 million in 1989. Last year, Forbes named the Cowboys as the most valuable sports team in the world, followed by Major League Baseball’s New York teams Yankees and Knicks, with Spanish soccer giants Barcelona and Real Madrid coming fourth and fifth on the list.

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Conrad Wiacek, head of sport analysis at GlobalData, commented: “Despite a lack of recent success, with only a handful of playoff appearances over the past 20 years, the Dallas Cowboys brand has grown globally, helping the team to retain their position as the most valuable NFL franchise.

“Sponsors still want to associate with ‘America’s Team’, a moniker earned during a dominant period in the early 90s which saw the franchise win the SuperBowl three times in four years. This is evident by the $384 million worth of sponsorship agreements in place throughout the 2021-22 NFL season, according to the GlobalData Sport sponsorship database, one of the largest sponsorship portfolios in the NFL.

“While the Dallas Cowboys have not had on-field success under Jerry Jones’ ownership, their commercial development has been a model for countless other teams in leagues around the world with many aiming to replicate the commercial success.”

At the other end of the scale, the Cincinnati Bengals, who played in this year’s Super Bowl, were the lowest-valued team at $3 billion, below the Detroit Lions ($3.05 billion), Arizona Cardinals ($3.27 billion), Buffalo Bills ($3.4 billion), and Jacksonville Jaguars ($3.475 billion).

Four NFL teams – the Chicago Bears, the Buffalo Bills, the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Cleveland Browns – managed to increase their value by over 40% from last year.

The Bears are moving towards getting either a new stadium or a renovation of Soldier Field, adding to the value of the team, while the Bills are getting a new $1.4-billion stadium funded with public money.

The Raiders, meanwhile, played their first game at Allegiant Stadium last year and generated the highest gross ticket revenue ($78 million) in the league. The Browns have increased non-premium ticket prices by nearly 60% over the last four years to an average of $130, while also ranking in the top five for season-ticket renewal rates.

Overall, the average NFL team is now worth $4.47 billion, a 28% increase from 2021, largely thanks to the sale of the Denver Broncos to the Walton-Penner ownership group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton for $4.65 billion.

The NFL generated about $18 billion in revenue last year and is on track to reach its goal of $25 billion by 2027 after striking a 10-year $113 billion media rights deal with Internet giant Amazon for the league’s Thursday Night Football package.

That deal, which includes Amazon showing 15 TNF games exclusively until 2033, was initially meant to start in 2023 but was brought forward to 2022, extending the pair's agreement to 11 years.

The 2022 NFL regular season is due to run from September 8 to February 13, 2023.