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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Like most professional sports leagues, the NFL focuses a ton of effort on finding and developing new revenue streams. But there's one resource that the league has yet to tap: jersey advertisements.

Why it matters: If every NFL team had a sponsorship patch like the ones you see in the NBA, it could net the league at least $220 million annually in added revenue — and that's an extremely conservative estimate.

  • That money would then theoretically be split between the owners (~$52%) and the players (~48%) to spend how they best see fit. Stadium upgrades, salary-cap pool, pension plans, etc.

The backdrop: 10 years ago, the NFL began adding sponsorship patches to practice jerseys, but that's as far as they got.

  • Meanwhile, MLS and international soccer got even deeper into the jersey sponsorship game, golfers continued to be walking billboards and then, in 2017, the NBA took the plunge.
  • Since then, all 30 NBA franchises have teamed up with a sponsor, and the results of the pilot program have been so positive that the league has already extended it indefinitely.
  • "We have entrenched, iconic brands looking to get younger ... upstart brands looking to build their image ... global brands looking to connect with the NBA. That's been really exciting because there are different ways we can deliver value," said Amy Brooks, the league's president of team marketing.

How it would work: If the NFL went this route, it would almost certainly follow the NBA's lead in allowing teams to negotiate their own sponsorship deals. As for the actual placement of the ads, here's SI's Jonathan Jones:

  • "The most obvious [option] would be on the left or right on the chest, just like on practice jerseys. Other patches would have to be considered, like how the sponsored patch interacts with a captain's patch [or] a Walter Payton Man of the Year patch."
  • "The other option would be on either sleeve. But that's also where Nike's Swoosh exists, and some teams also have their logo on their sleeve. It's important real estate that wouldn't be given up easily, and that's before considering some players (hello, Michael Bennett) like to roll their sleeves up into their pads."

The bottom line: With the NBA's patch program exceeding all expectations and causing seemingly no reciprocal harm, it raises a pressing question: How much longer will the NFL continue to leave money on the table?

Go deeper: The push to get sports leagues to cut out junk food sponsors

Go deeper

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth-quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

Janet Yellen plays down debt, tax hike concerns in confirmation hearing

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at an event in December. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.