One of the largest looming free agency storylines in the NFL has nothing to do with a player. The asset in question isn’t on any draft boards, and most casual football fans couldn’t care less where the talent ends up in 2020. America’s top network executives, however, couldn’t be more dialed into the upcoming decision from Tony Romo.
Two years ago, Tony Romo had attention from NBC and FOX when he announced he was leaving the Cowboys and was interested in the booth. NBC reportedly offered the charismatic quarterback part time work during their Thursday Night Football broadcasts with Mike Tirico. FOX promised 17 weeks worth of games, but didn’t want to break up their top team of Buck and Aikman. Against those offers, Romo’s decision to replace Phil Simms as the lead analyst for CBS was relatively easy. Not only would he get the network’s top games week in and week out, he’d work alongside his golf buddy Jim Nantz.
Two years later, Romo has solidified himself as maybe the best television analysts in football – if not all of sports. In his rookie season in the booth, Romo displayed an uncanny knowledge for today’s game and had a knack for predicting offensive plays at the line of scrimmage in real time. In his sophomore year, he found a way to share information while deferring to his veteran partner allowing the broadcasts to sing.
With 3 years under his belt next Spring, assuming CBS doesn’t extend their star analyst in the next 10 months, Romo will almost certainly become the highest paid analyst in the history of the NFL. That honor currently belongs to John Madden, who made $8,000,000 during the 1993 football season. If Romo gets through the year without signing the dotted line for CBS, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports he’ll likely see offers eclipsing the $10M mark.
Marchand laid out several possible scenarios for Romo’s future in his Monday column. Fox, who many believed was Romo’s second choice two years ago, could put Romo opposite Joe Buck and relegate Troy Aikman to the studio show. That move would make Fox younger in the booth and on their pregame show. Aikman could also jump ship to replace Romo at CBS in that scenario.
ESPN/ABC would absolutely have to offer Romo a seat at the Monday Night Football table – a move they might hold out for if they don’t find a sustainable broadcast team in the next year.
NBC is maybe the least likely to land Romo, but if they decide to break up the iconic Michaels-Collinsworth duo they’ll have a shot. It’s no secret Mike Tirico is standing in the wings waiting to take over for Michaels, and NBC decision makers might see the opportunity to make a transition to a younger booth sooner rather than later.
Romo has gone on record discussing how much he loves working with Jim Nantz. It’ll be interesting to see how much that love is worth once the offers start rolling in.