A seismic shift may be going down in the world of NFL broadcasting.
Troy Aikman, currently the top NFL color commentator for Fox Sports, is deep in negotiations to leave the network to become the lead analyst for ESPN's "Monday Night Football," according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.
The deal will be reportedly be for five years, with a salary in the neighborhood of Tony Romo's $17.5 million per year contract with CBS. It's a good time to be a former Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback.
Aikman was also reportedly courted by Amazon, which is about to become the sole broadcaster, or streamer, of "Thursday Night Football." Amazon remains in negotiations for another broadcasting free agent, Al Michaels of NBC Sports. Per Marchand, ESPN could pursue Michaels as well.
The potential move would end a two-decade tenure at Fox for Aikman, who has been calling games with Joe Buck since 2002. It might not be the end for Aikman's partnership with Buck, though, as the well-known play-by-play man has his contract up next year.
Who could replace Troy Aikman at Fox?
Fox does not seem to lack for candidates to replace Aikman. Per Marchand, the network will consider its No. 2 analyst, former Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Oldsen, and former New Orleans Saints Sean Payton. It could also reportedly trade for Drew Brees, who currently works for NBC as a studio analyst.
There is also the possibility of Tom Brady, who probably has better things to do in his first year of retirement. Marchand even mentions the possibility of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay for both Fox and Amazon, though that would require a shocking retirement at this point.
ESPN makes a splash hire for 'Monday Night Football'
The awkward part of ESPN poaching Aikman would be the fact that they already have a pair of "Monday Night Football" color commentators, though neither have the name recognition of Aikman and some other names ESPN has pursued.
Last season, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick were the latest occupants of a MNF broadcasting booth that has been something of a revolving door since the departure of Mike Tirico in 2016 and Jon Gruden in 2018. For the play-by-play role, ESPN has turned to Sean McDonough, Joe Tessitore and, most recently, Steve Levy, with varying results.
The color position has been even more chaotic. ESPN first brought on Jason Witten, who drew poor reviews and abruptly ended his retirement to re-sign with the Cowboys, then tried Booger McFarland as its sole color commentator, to even poorer reviews. At seemingly every juncture, the network went after Peyton Manning, but was rebuffed up until the Hall of Fame quarterback got his own broadcast with his brother Eli. The resulting Manningcast was unquestionably a win for ESPN, but left ESPN with a broadcast booth low on name recognition, but with decent reviews.
Now, ESPN may not be getting Manning in its biggest color commentary role, but it's reportedly on the verge of finally making that splash hire the network has been keen on for years.