The Green Bay Packers are a unique entity in the world of the NFL. They are a publicly held entity, although the owners of Packers stock are not able to actually earn any return on their stock. It's an odd set-up, but it means the team has to publish annual financial statements, like any other publicly held company. I have not been able to find a PDF of the statements, but there has been plenty of reporting on it.
The most notable figure for the purposes of NFL fans is probably $187.7 million. That is the amount of money the Packers reported as national revenue. That covers their cut of the NFL television rights, the NFL's wireless deal with Verizon, and the 34 percent of ticket sales that goes to visiting teams. Each visiting team gets 34 percent of the home ticket sales, but as I understand it, the money is all pooled together and shared like the TV money.
Last year's salary cap was $123 million. Teams have plenty of other costs to deal with, but with the huge player payroll covered plus $64.7 million, it's safe to say it's a good time to own an NFL franchise. The NFL has had their broadcast antitrust exemption for a long time, and it has only gotten more and more insane.
As PFT pointed out, a smaller number of teams could make crazy money if the exemption went away. However, having that antitrust exemption provides for a collective improvement. It's almost like they've blended some socialism into their capitalism!
If the NFL did not have the central television deal, and had a system where everybody figured out their own TV deals, we would potentially see a system more like that of baseball where you have a clear delineating among the television markets. Instead, a team in the Green Bay market gets the same big television money as a team in the New York market.
Would the NFL be nearly as popular if you had more have nots, instead of just a whole bunch of haves? Or would that impact how people view the league, and how much they embrace it? Sure some teams now make less in other ways. You've got times like the Jaguars and Raiders who struggle in certain respects, but with a solid nine figures of national money every year for every team, those teams are able to make up the difference.
The San Francisco 49ers move into their new stadium this fall, and it will quickly turn into a money machine. They will spend a lot of the money they make paying off the mortgage, but long term, the franchise will be in great shape. The Yorks will certainly be able to pocket a pretty penny as time moves on, but they also will have a lot more money to invest into the team outside of the payroll. There is no salary cap on coaching staff payrolls. There is no salary cap on investments in technology to improve scouting, or medical investments.
The 49ers already have one of the highest paid coaching staffs in the league, and they will be in a position to maintain that kind of thing moving forward. Coaches will leave for better opportunities, but if it ever comes down to strictly money, the 49ers will be in a position to match any offer. They'll be able to pay their personnel folks. They'll be able to boost the training staff. There is so much they'll be able to do with the new revenue streams at Levi's Stadium. It does not guarantee Super Bowls, but it only improves their chances. Every team has access to the same salary cap. It becomes a matter of figuring out what to do next to improve your position. There are edges to be found, and the 49ers are in a position to find them.