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Forbes: Patriots are the second-most valuable franchise in the NFL

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New England trails only the Dallas Cowboys.

New England Patriots vs New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In January 1994, Boston business magnate and football fan Robert Kraft bought a struggling NFL franchise and turned it into one of the greatest dynasties the sport has ever seen. Kraft, who already owned the team’s stadium, invested a then-record $172 million to buy the New England Patriots from James Orthwein Busch.

The deal did not only turn out great for the team and the region, which kept its pro football franchise instead of seeing it leave to become the St. Louis Stallions, it also turned out well for Kraft: his investment has paid considerable dividends in the last 20+ years. As the Patriots became more successful on the field, they did the same off it – to a point where the franchise has grown into one of the most valuable in all of sports.

According to Forbes Magazine, the Patriots are currently worth $3.7 billion, or, putting inflation into consideration, 13 times what Kraft paid for the team back in 1994.

With five Super Bowl titles, New England is the most successful NFL franchise of the 21st century. It is not surprising to see the team's popularity and consequently value rise steadily over the last two decades. The team’s success also coincides with the NFL’s general rise in popularity as well as the rise of social media and the internet. All those factors on and off the field, inside and outside the NFL, have contributed to the team’s ever growing value.

Now, New England trails only the Dallas Cowboys in terms of total value as a look at the ranking of the NFL's franchises shows:

1. Dallas Cowboys: $4.8 billion

2. New England Patriots: $3.7 billion

3. New York Giants: $3.3 billion

4. Washington Redskins: $3.1 billion

5. San Francisco 49ers: $3.05 billion

6. Los Angeles Rams: $3.0 billion

7. Chicago Bears: $2.85 billion

8. Houston Texans: $2.8 billion

9. New York Jets: $2.75 billion

10. Philadelphia Eagles: $2.65 billion

11. Denver Broncos: $2.6 billion

12. Miami Dolphins: $2.575 billion

13. Green Bay Packers: $2.55 billion

14. Baltimore Ravens: $2.5 billion

15. Atlanta Falcons: $2.475 billion

16. Pittsburgh Steelers: $2.45 billion

17. Seattle Seahawks: $2.425 billion

18. Minnesota Vikings: $2.4 billion

19. Oakland Raiders: $2.38 billion

20. Indianapolis Colts: $2.357 billion

21. Carolina Panthers: $2.3 billion

22. Los Angeles Chargers: $2.275 billion

23. Arizona Cardinals: $2.15 billion

24. Kansas City Chiefs: $2.1 billion

25. Jacksonville Jaguars: $2.075 billion

26. Tennessee Titans: $2.05 billion

27. New Orleans Saints: $2.0 billion

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $1.975 billion

29. Cleveland Browns: $1.95 billion

30. Cincinnati Bengals: $1.8 billion

31. Detroit Lions: $1.7 billion

32. Buffalo Bills: $1.6 billion

According to Forbes, the average NFL franchise is worth $2.5 billion – an increase ofu 8% when compared to last year's list.