Drew Brees is heading to the broadcast booth; Saints QB picks NBC over ESPN
Drew Brees will transition into a pretty sweet gig after he retires from his NFL playing career. According to the New York Post, Brees “is signing with NBC Sports over ESPN in a move that will make him a fixture on NFL telecasts far after he finishes playing.”
Brees, 41, just signed a two-year contract extension with the Saints in NFL free agency. Whether he will play both years or retire after the 2020 season is unclear.
According to the Post, NBC plans to develop Brees as the potential successor to current NFL game analyst Cris Collinsworth. Once he retires from his playing career, Brees will start as an analyst on the network’s Notre Dame football broadcasts and work as a “Football Night in America” studio analyst.
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This is another big hit for ESPN, which is attempting to move on from its current duo of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland and refine its NFL broadcast team prior to upcoming broadcast rights negotiations with the NFL. ESPN reportedly wanted to sign Tony Romo or Peyton Manning as its game analyst, but the former re-signed with CBS, and the latter declined the offer. The Post also notes that ESPN had interest in signing Philip Rivers, but he signed a one-year contract with the Colts in NFL free agency and pushed off retirement.
Now ESPN “will internally consider Dan Orlovsky, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese,” for its NFL TV analyst position, “while looking outside at NFL Network/Westwood One’s Kurt Warner and CBS/NFL Network’s Nate Burleson,” per the Post.
ESPN’s current deal with the NFL — which is set to expire in 2021, a year before the expiration of the league’s deals with NBC, CBS and Fox — is bad. ESPN reportedly pays more than $1 billion per year for the right to broadcast “Monday Night Football” games, for which the quality in scheduling has slipped, without being part of the Super Bowl broadcast rotation. NBC, on the other hand, reportedly pays just $950 million for the rights to “Sunday Night Football” games, which has become the league’s premier prime-time package, and its place in the Super Bowl rotation.
Brees’ partner in NBC’s NFL broadcast booth will depend on the timing of his transition. The Post reports that Mike Tirico will take over for Al Michaels as the network’s NFL play-by-play announcer starting with the 2023 season. The report also notes the possibility of NBC adding another NFL game package in upcoming negotiations, which would allow both Brees and Collinsworth to work as “No. 1” broadcast analysts.
Brees reportedly will not be paid like Romo, who will make roughly $17 million per season. Which makes sense considering Romo is a proven commodity in the booth, and NBC has no idea whether Brees will even be good at the job. According to the Post, “ESPN was thought to be the highest bidder for Brees in the $6 million range,” and “NBC’s offer is said to be competitive with it.”
Of course, Brees’ inexperience doesn’t matter to NBC, which now has a clear plan in place for its near-future NFL broadcasts. The network doesn’t know whether it’s getting a good game announcer, but it knows it’s getting one hell of a bargaining chip.
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