ESPN formally announced today that they will not replace Jason Witten in the Monday Night Football booth for next season, and that the crew will consist of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland with Lisa Salters on sidelines. This is not altogether surprising as Jim Miller said this would be the case in early March on Jimmy Traina’s podcast if ESPN again failed to land Peyton Manning. We had heard of Pat McAfee in a potential offbeat sideline role, but this announcement and his tweet about it indicate that’s not in the cards as of right now.
Anyways, as we look forward to NFL announcer free agency *next* season, there are some big storylines lurking.
Romo is the key domino in the 2020 NFL announcer lineup. His deal is up at CBS. They’d love to keep him. Everybody, and especially ESPN, would love to have him. Andrew Marchand reported that Romo, who currently makes in the $3 million range at CBS, “could try to start negotiations at $10 million.”
Romo is arguably the most impactful color commentator not just in the NFL but in any sport since John Madden, and where he winds up will be a matter of constant intrigue.
Drew Brees and/or Philip Rivers?
The Big Lead has been hearing that Drew Brees and Philip Rivers are two current players who will be highly coveted by networks when they are done playing. Of course, it bears mentioning that time period is up in the air. Brees is 40 years old and Rivers is 37, but both of them had solid statistical seasons and led their teams to playoff berths last year. Rivers is in line for a contract extension with the Chargers. Brees is too.
Whichever of CBS or ESPN loses out on Romo — or, who knows, maybe even both! — is sure to call on these two to glean interest.
Joe Davis on FOX NFL?
Davis is amongst the biggest rising stars in play-by-play broadcasting. He was Vin Scully’s replacement on Dodger games, calls MLB playoffs for FOX, and also leads one of their top college football announcer teams. We can report that there were discussions this offseason about pairing Davis with Greg Olsen on NFL telecasts; it now appears as though Davis will remain on college football for the upcoming season and that Olsen (who has also had talks with ESPN) will return to the Panthers. However, keep an eye out for Davis rising to the NFL in the future.
Davis, who is 31 years old, is in a group with Ryan Ruocco, Adam Amin, and Jason Benetti of play-by-play broadcasters in their thirties who you can easily envision calling championship-level events across the sports spectrum down the road (Amin has called the last two women’s Final Four’s).