Does Your Favorite NFL Team Have an Advantage in Free Agency Because of Taxes?

We rank all 32 NFL teams based on the estimated state and local tax burden on their players. Where does your team rank?

picture of NFL logo with "Free Agency" written next to it
(Image credit: Courtesy National Football League/Kiplinger Illustration)

The NFL’s 2019 free-agency period is just about here! Hundreds of professional football players will be signing new contracts with new teams in the coming weeks and months. For many players, a new deal comes with a nice salary bump—and a bigger tax bill to go along with it. While a player’s federal taxes won’t be affected by which team signs him, his state and local taxes certainly will. That’s because state and local income, sales and property tax rates vary widely from place to place. (Note: Athletes also pay state income taxes in most states to which they travel for road games throughout the season.) For this reason, teams located in lower-tax states, counties and cities have an advantage in free agency over teams in higher-tax places. Why? If Team A and Team B both offer a free agent the same amount of money, and if the player can keep more of that money for himself by signing with Team A, then Team A has the upper hand. It’s that simple.

Kiplinger’s 2019 NFL Free Agency Tax Rankings lets fans see whether their favorite team is helped or hindered in free agency by their local tax situation. We rank all 32 NFL teams based on the estimated state and local tax burden on their players (highest tax burden to lowest). The estimates reflect what a hypothetical NFL free agent would pay in state and local taxes if he signs a contract worth $4.5 million per year (the projected average for 2019) and lives full-time in the same county where the team’s practice facility is located (players tend to live close to where they practice). Where does your team rank? Check out our list of all 32 NFL locations to find out!


For more information about our methodology, see the final slide.

Rocky Mengle

Rocky Mengle was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger from October 2018 to January 2023 with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, Rocky worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.