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Volume 26 No. 65
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Tom Brady Edges Patrick Mahomes As NFL's Most Marketable Player

Patriots QB Tom Brady narrowly beat out Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes for the title of most marketable player in the NFL, while the resurgent Browns had two players crack the top five, according to a survey of sports business execs, marketing analysts and media members conducted by THE DAILY. Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. and QB Baker Mayfield rank third and fourth, respectively, with Giants RB Saquon Barkley rounding out the top five. Brady and Mahomes were comfortably in a league of their own, with no other player coming within 35 points of their final scores.

RANK
PLAYER
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
PTS TOTAL
PERCENT
1)
Patriots QB Tom Brady
12
10
4
1
3
117
75%
2)
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
13
8
4
2
2
115
72.5%
3)
Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr.
3
7
8
4
3
78
62.5%
4)
Browns QB Baker Mayfield
3
3
3
3
4
46
40%
5)
Giants RB Saquon Barkley
1
3
2
8
6
45
50%
6)
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
1
4
4
3
1
40
32.5%
7t)
Texans DE J.J. Watt
2
1
1
5
6
33
37.5%
7t)
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
2
1
4
2
3
33
30%
9)
Saints QB Drew Brees
1
1
3
3
2
26
25%
10)
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
1
2
1
 
2
18
15%
Download the
Most Marketable Top 10 Chart

METHODOLOGY: The survey was distributed to marketing/branding execs, sports business professors and both print and on-air football media. The 40 respondents listed, in order, their top five most marketable players in the NFL. Points were awarded on a five-point scale, with players awarded five points for a first-place vote, four points for second place, etc.

Brady last season led all NFL players in the sale of NFLPA licensed products for the second year in a row
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

SIMPLY THE BEST: Brady's status as the NFL's most marketable player may come as something of a surprise due to his age. But the 42-year-old QB's success on and off the field helps him stand the test of time. The Under Armour ambassador's extensive endorsement portfolio features a number of major luxury brands, including Aston Martin and watch brand IWC Schaffhausen. He also has seen the successful launch of his TB12 performance line. Brady, who is repped in his marketing ventures by WME and Jonesworks, is a six-time and reigning Super Bowl champion, three-time league MVP and the No. 1 seller of NFLPA licensed products for the second year in a row. Fanatics Founder & Exec Chair Michael Rubin earlier this month noted during an appearance on NFL Network that the only things predictable in the NFL are "death, taxes and Tom Brady jersey sales." Bespoke Sports & Entertainment CEO Mike Boykin said Brady has the "rare combination of success and an incredible work ethic." Boykin: "He always seems to do and say the right thing."

SOCIAL BUTTERFLY: Brady has proven to be savvy with social media, regularly posting on his Twitter and Instagram pages, even starring in the '18 Facebook Watch series, "Tom vs. Time." Despite just joining Twitter in April, Brady has the second-most followers in the NFL across his three main social media pages. He also had the most interactions of any player in July. "What makes a player marketable is their ability to connect with and influence a wide audience while still maintaining authenticity," said Whistle Sports Senior Dir of Content Partnerships & Talent Alex Korn. "On top of that, engagement on social is another huge factor."

RANK
PLAYER
FOLLOWERS
TWITTER
FACEBOOK
INSTAGRAM
INTERACTIONS
1)
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
11.5M
5.4M
2.2M
3.9M
2.0M
2)
Patriots QB Tom Brady
11.3M
554K
4.4M
6.4M
5.9M
3)
Texans DE J.J. Watt
11.1M
5.5M
2.0M
3.6M
2.2M
Download the
Most Marketable Social Chart

YOUNG GUN: Mahomes, the reigning league MVP, is the poster boy of the NFL's offensive revolution, and he already has the look of a player who could be the face of the league for years to come, despite having just 19 total starts at the NFL level. He also offers potential partners a safe endorser with no off-field concerns or troublesome history. Mahomes will be all over TV and social media this fall, starring in highly visible campaigns for Head & Shoulders, Hunt's Ketchup and Oakley. This follows a strategy put forth by Leigh Steinberg, Mahomes' agent, that saw the QB intentionally wait on signing big deals during his record-setting '18 season. Mahomes may make his home in K.C., the 32nd-ranked Nielsen designated market in the U.S., but that has not stopped him from building an ever-expanding endorsement portfolio. "The most attractive quality about Patrick is that he still carries this genuine humility, even after putting up one of the most impressive seasons in NFL history," said Platinum Rye Senior Dir of Sports Marketing Brad Griffiths. Cogent VP/Brand Sponsorships & Partnerships Greg Goldring added, "He's the rising face of offense for the NFL, and he has a clean background and made a great run last year. And the fact that you can recognize him by face is a really big deal. He has a unique look."

Beckham's endorsement portfolio features big name brands like Nike and Buick
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

WHAT CAN THE BROWNS DO FOR YOU? No team in the NFL has had a higher profile this offseason than the Browns, led by the excitement around the pairing of two fiery young stars in Beckham and Mayfield. The pair of Nike endorsers are as known for their flashy personalities off the field as they are for their big plays on it. Boykin said Beckham and Mayfield are "two of the biggest lightning rods in the league, and they're on the same team." Beckham -- who is repped for off-field work by a team of ELITE Athlete Management's Zeke Sandhu, WME and his mother, Heather Van Norman -- has one of the most distinct images of any NFL player. That has parlayed into an endorsement portfolio full of big name brands like Nike and Buick, and he also preceded Mahomes in Head & Shoulders' NFL campaigns the past few seasons. Beckham's sometimes brash nature can deter some, but it also attracts attention, as he has accounted for the second-most sales of NFLPA licensed products over the offseason, behind only Brady. It will be interesting to see how Beckham's offseason trade from the No. 1 media market to No. 19 impacts how Madison Avenue looks at him going forward.

Mayfield was just announced as the lead of a new campaign for Progressive Insurance
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

SHAKE & BAKE: Meanwhile, Mayfield is the latest player tasked with rescuing the Browns franchise from irrelevance. "If there's one player capable of doing the impossible -- reinventing the Browns franchise -- it seems like it's him," said Griffiths. "If that happens, he becomes an NFL legend." Mayfield has an exciting on-field presence and he appears unshaken by the pressure put on him to lead the Browns back to the playoffs. Above all, he is confident, both in his abilities and in himself. Boykin called Mayfield a natural leader and noted he has "swag off the charts." Boykin: "People are drawn to him. He's just got some magnetism about him." The '18 No. 1 overall pick continues to add to his endorsement portfolio, recently posing for a PSD Underwear photo shoot and joining BodyArmor's star-studded roster. Just this morning, Mayfield announced a new marketing partnership with Progressive. Mayfield is repped by Camwood Capital Group's Chris Talbott.

Barkley's combination of talent and playing in the No. 1 media market makes him attractive to brands
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY: Barkley's marketability can be best summarized with this: He is the brightest star in the biggest market. Goldring noted, "You can be the best player, but if you end up in Buffalo, your marketing deals are not the same as if you're in N.Y., L.A. or Chicago." However, the Nike endorser and CAA client is much more than his market, possessing a strong eye for self-branding and clear plan regarding his public image. Barkley offers brands a comfortable partner, one who already is becoming one of the faces of the NFL going into his second season. Barkley is often compared to the Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott, and it is easy to see why -- both were high draft picks out of Big Ten schools who play for rival NFC East teams. However, while Elliott's off-field incidents have pushed him away from marketers, Barkley has no such concerns or red flags. When paired with his natural charisma and selectiveness with adding brands to his endorsement portfolio, it makes Barkley an attractive target. Griffiths called Barkley the "total package" and noted there is "not a bad thing to be said about him."

KEEP AN EYE OUT: Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster just missed out on the top five in this survey, but things could be different in 12 months. Despite playing largely in Antonio Brown's shadow during his first two NFL seasons, Smith-Schuster's appearance on the list is driven in large part by his social media acumen, interest in esports and open, accessible personality. Goldring said Smith-Schuster is a "new-age hero," and called him the "epitome of the next generation." NFL Network's Kay Adams said Generation Z "loves him," and it is easy to see why. Smith-Schuster knows his appeal and how to maximize it, and is well positioned to be at the forefront of the NFL's marketing initiatives going forward.

BEST OF THE REST: Here are the rest of the players to appear on the survey. Some observations: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers narrowly missed out on the top five, after topping the last NFL most marketable survey, which came out in January '12....Texans DE J.J. Watt was the highest ranked defensive player in the survey. Only four of the 21 players named were defensive players, while 10 of them were QBs....The Cowboys may be America's Team, but QB Dak Prescott, the highest-ranking player on the team, barely cracked the top 10.

RANK
PLAYER
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
PTS TOTAL
PERCENT
11)
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
1
 
2
2
2
17
17.5%
12)
Broncos LB Von Miller
 
 
 
3
2
8
12.5%
13)
Rams RB Todd Gurley
 
 
2
 
 
6
5%
14)
Raiders WR Antonio Brown
 
 
1
 
1
4
5%
15t)
Saints RB Alvin Kamara
 
 
1
 
 
3
2.5%
15t)
Rams DT Aaron Donald
 
 
 
1
1
3
5%
17t)
Eagles QB Carson Wentz
 
 
 
1
 
2
2.5%
17t)
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott
 
 
 
1
 
2
2.5%
17t)
Texans QB Deshaun Watson
 
 
 
1
 
2
2.5%
20t)
Free agent QB Colin Kaepernick
 
 
 
 
1
1
2.5%
20t)
Bears LB Khalil Mack
 
 
 
 
1
1
2.5%
Download the
Most Marketable 11-20 Chart