Cowboys are the NFL's most valuable franchise

The Dallas Cowboys are the National Football League's only $2 billion franchise, Forbes announced Wednesday as part of the magazine's annual team value list.

Forbes' executive editor Michael Ozanian called $2.1 billion value "a conservative estimate." He said the publication calculated the team's $80 million in sponsorship revenue, their state-of-the art stadium and the fact that they're the only team in the league that distributes its own merchandise to retailers.

Owner Jerry Jones bought the team for $140 million in 1989, and the franchise value has increased by nearly 715 percent, including inflation.

Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. That's roughly a 715 percent increase to today's value, factoring in inflation.

The Cowboys generated $500 million in total revenue last season, a record for an American sports team.

The New England Patriots are second at $1.635 billion. The Washington Redskins ($1.6 billion), the New York Giants ($1.468) and the Houston Texans ($1.305) round out the top five.