Report: Stephen A. Smith aiming for record payday with ESPN

Ryan YoungYahoo Sports Contributor
Stephen A. Smith is reportedly in line to become the highest-paid on-air talent at ESPN when the two sides begin new contract negotiations. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Stephen A. Smith is reportedly in line to become the highest-paid on-air talent at ESPN when the two sides begin new contract negotiations. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Stephen A. Smith is one of the most recognizable faces on ESPN.

With his latest deal with the network expiring in the near future, it sounds like Smith is preparing to negotiate for a record deal with ESPN.

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Smith, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, is “in line” to become the highest-paid on-air talent at ESPN, and could earn anywhere from $8 million to $10 million per year.

Now, Smith’s current deal with ESPN is set to expire in 2021 and the two sides have yet to start negotiating seriously. A lot can still change before that happens. However, it sounds like ESPN is prepared to give Smith a substantial raise when the time comes in order to keep him under its banner instead of losing him to a competitor.

Smith has been with ESPN since 2005, and is easily one of the most famous at the network with his constant involvement on “First Take,” “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” ESPN’s NBA coverage and much more.

The 51-year-old has drawn significant attention on social media in recent months, too, though not in the way he would have liked. Smith has made multiple critical mistakes on air, which triggered his followers and sports fans everywhere to call him out almost instantly.

Smith rang up four quick errors late last year when previewing the Kansas City Chiefs-Los Angeles Chargers game — including calling them the “San Diego Chargers.” He followed that up in February when talking about former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, calling him “more of a runner than a thrower” despite the fact that Haskins ran for just 108 yards all year.

Then last month, he thought that Mike Scioscia, who retired last fall, was still the manager of the Los Angeles Angels on his radio show.

Still, both sports fans and athletes across multiple leagues seem to love Smith, whose current deal is reportedly worth around $5 million per year.

“Get Up!” host Mike Greenberg, by comparison, is paid $6.5 million per year, which makes him the highest-paid talent currently at the network. According to the report, Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser from “PTI” are “believed to be in Greenberg’s neighborhood.”

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