Bucs top NFC South teams in franchise values

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

Which NFC South franchise is the most valuable? Believe it or not, it’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who seem to be sweeping fourth place in every preseason prediction.

But the Bucs are in first place, according to Forbes, which ranks the value of NFL franchises each year. The Bucs rank eighth in the league and are valued at $1.085 billion. That’s a three-percent increase over last year even though the Bucs no longer have Derrick Brooks and Jon Gruden as the faces of their franchise.

I’m no business expert, but I’m thinking the Bucs’ sweetheart stadium deal and frugality with the salary cap may have played roles in this ranking.

Carolina’s the only other NFC South franchise valued at more than $1 billion. Forbes values the Panthers at $1.049 billion, which ranks 12th in the league. The Panthers grew one percent in a year in which the value of many teams fell.

The New Orleans Saints rank No. 22 at $942 million, which is the same figure they were valued at last year. The one I found surprising was the Atlanta Falcons. Despite adding Matt Ryan and a lot of excitement, the Falcons came in at No. 30 and were valued at $856 million, a two-percent decrease from last year. I guess that’s why the Falcons are making noise about wanting a new stadium.