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#pounditFriday, February 26, 2021

ESPN reportedly interested in hiring Jim Nantz away from CBS

Jim Nantz

ESPN has not been able to find anything close to an elite play-by-play announcer since Mike Tirico left for NBC back in 2016. Is there any scenario in which Jim Nantz could fill that void? Apparently it cannot be ruled out.

Nantz is currently negotiating a new contract with CBS, and Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that ESPN is preparing to swoop in. ESPN and parent company Walt Disney Co. are looking to grow their NFL footprint, and Nantz becoming the face of the network would mesh with that plan.

There has been talk about “Monday Night Football” returning to ABC as well as ESPN/ABC once again carrying Super Bowl broadcasts. There has not been a Super Bowl broadcast on ABC since Al Michaels and John Madden were in the booth back in 2006.

While Nantz and CBS may be at an impasse in contract talks, a network spokesperson told McCarthy that “we expect Jim to be at CBS Sports for many years to come.”

ESPN shares Masters coverage with CBS, and McCarthy notes that ESPN could try to use Nantz’s connections to land weekend coverage of the event. CBS has held the Masters weekend coverage since the 1950s, and Nantz has spoken openly about wanting to become the first broadcaster to call 50 Masters. That’s one of the main reasons there is a strong chance he will remain with CBS.

Nantz currently makes $6.5 million per year from CBS, while his partner Tony Romo signed a 10-year, $180 million deal with the network last year. Nantz is said to be seeking a salary similar to Romo’s, though that is probably unrealistic for a play-by-play announcer. He is certainly due for a raise, however, as Joe Buck makes more than $10 million from FOX and Mike Tirico gets roughly the same amount from NBC.

CBS recently made a move that could signal they are preparing for Nantz to leave. While ESPN would love for that to happen, it still seems like a long shot.

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