Panthers pass $2B value, slide three spots in Forbes NFL list

Jim Brown—USA Today Sports
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw just two passes in the preseason. (Jim Brown— / USA Today Sports)

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The Carolina Panthers’ run to Super Bowl 50 helped push the team’s value past the $2 billion mark, according to Forbes’ annual valuation of NFL franchises.The Panthers actually dropped to No. 22 in the Forbes list, from 19th in 2015, but the franchise’s value climbed to $2.075 billion from $1.56 billion the year before — a growth of 33 percent. The team’s revenue also grew by $37 million, from $325 million in the 2015 valuation to $362 million.The Panthers, who were an NFL-best 15-1 in the regular season last year, lost Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos, 24-10, in February. Carolina reached the Super Bowl one other time in team history, falling to the New England Patriots, 32-29, in 2004.Forbes also ranked Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the reigning NFL MVP, as the league’s top-paid player for the period of June 1, 2015, to June 1, 2016. Forbes said Newton earned $53.1 million in salary, bonuses and endorsements. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who played most of his college career at NC State, ranked No. 5 at $41.8 million. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and several investors paid $206 million in 1993 for the expansion franchise, which began play two years later. Going by Forbes’ numbers, that makes the team worth more than 10 times what Richardson and the ownership group paid nearly a quarter century ago.The team is one of 24 NFL franchises valued at $2 billion or more by Forbes, led by the Dallas Cowboys ($4.2 billion) and New England Patriots ($3.4 billion). The Los Angeles Rams, who relocated from St. Louis for the 2016 season, doubled in value, jumping to No. 6 at $2.9 billion from $1.45 billion (No. 28) in last year’s valuations.The Washington Redskins slid from third in 2015 ($2.85 billion) to fifth ($2.9 billion) this year. Every NFL franchise grew in value according to Forbes, with the Redskins’ $50 million growth the smallest among the 32 NFL teams. The Buffalo Bills, at $1.5 billion, were 32nd in Forbes’ list but still added $100 million in value compared to last year. The Bills were purchased by Terry Pegula, who also owns the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, in 2014 for $1.4 billion.Other than the Rams’ meteoric climb up the list, the Oakland Raiders jumped the most from last year to this year, going from second to last in 2015 ($1.43 billion) to 20th ($2.1 billion) this year. The 11-spot leap is likely fueled by rumors the franchise could be relocated to Las Vegas.According the the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, the New York Giants paid a paltry $500 (about $7,000 in today’s money) franchise fee to join the NFL in 1925. The last expansion team, the Houston Texans, paid $700 million (approximately $935 million today) to join the league in 2002. The Texans are now valued at $2.6 billion, ranking ninth on Forbes’ list.