CBS revamps NFL studio show: Two familiar QBs are out and another QB is in

Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason — who, along with Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw, have logged more broadcasting hours on network television than any other ex-quarterbacks for the past two decades — are out at CBS, which shuffled its NFL studio cast on Monday.

CBS announced that James Brown, Nate Burleson, Bill Cowher, J.J. Watt and newcomer Matt Ryan will be the revamped cast of its studio show, “The NFL Today.”

Simms and Esiason, whose contracts were up, won’t be back after long careers at the network.

Brown, Burleson and Cowher were full-time members of the CBS show last season. Watt was a part-time member. Ryan spent his first year as a broadcaster on CBS’ No. 4 game announcing team. So Watt and Ryan essentially replace Simms and Esiason.

CBS opted to re-sign Cowher, whose contract was up. Brown, 73, signed a contract extension last year to remain host. Burleson, considered a rising star in the business, is widely expected to someday succeed Brown as the show’s host.

Simms, 68, spent 19 years as CBS’ lead NFL game analyst, first with Greg Gumbel and then with Jim Nantz, before moving to the studio in 2017 when CBS hired Tony Romo to work alongside Nantz. Gumbel left NFL play-by-play last season.

“Great 26 yrs run with CBS SPORTS,” Simms said on the social media platform X on Monday morning, moments before CBS’ announcement. “Even though that part of my career is over I look forward to what is next.”

Esiason, 63, spent 22 years in CBS’ NFL studio.

“Phil and Boomer set the standard of excellence for NFL analysts,” said CBS Sports president and CEO David Berson, who was promoted to replace the recently-retired Sean McManus as the top executive in the network’s sports division.

“We are so grateful for their immeasurable contributions to CBS Sports. We genuinely thank them for being incredible teammates and for their passion, dedication and commitment to elevating CBS Sports’ NFL coverage every season.”

Ryan, 38, ranks seventh on the NFL’s all-time passing list with 62,792 yards. He was league MVP in 2016 and led the Atlanta Falcons to one Super Bowl appearance, a loss to the New England Patriots.