Forbes crushes Bears' finances

Forbes Magazine's annual NFL team valuation project includes a scathing portrait of the Chicago Bears' finances. "No NFL team has done less with more," writes Forbes' Monte Burke.

Forbes values the Bears at $1.067 billion, making them the lowest-valued "big-market" team in the NFL. The Bears have left so many potential revenue streams untapped, Burke writes, that they have the potential to be worth $800 million more than their current value. Burke: "The Bears are the greatest unlocked asset in professional sports."

I don't pretend to be an expert at anything, much less NFL revenue streams. But it does make intuitive sense that a team in the country's second-biggest television market, and with a newly renovated stadium, should rank higher than No. 9 among NFL teams in value.

That said, internal finances should matter only to the extent that they impact spending on the football side. And it would be hard to complain about the Bears' recent payroll splurges after re-signing quarterback Jay Cutler to a market-level extension and then later adding free agents Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna. The contracts of those four players alone could be worth $169 million.

The Bears were one of three NFC North teams that lost value in this analysis over the past year. The chart accompanying this post lists Forbes' details for each team.