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#pounditMonday, August 2, 2021

Maria Taylor close to deal with NBC Sports but looking for ESPN to raise offer?

Maria Taylor

Maria Taylor’s contract negotiations with ESPN have been a major topic over the last few weeks, and there is a new twist in the story.

Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy reported Wednesday that Taylor was in negotiations with NBC Sports. He quoted a source saying that the deal was at the “half-yard line,” but that the talks could fall apart. The source also said ESPN could raise its offer.

Taylor is reportedly making around $1 million a year at ESPN. Her contract expires on July 20.

The subject of Taylor’s contract talks were raised by the New York Post in late June. A report said Taylor turned down $5 million a year and was seeking Stephen A. Smith money. Here is how much Smith earns at ESPN.

ESPN reportedly recently offered Taylor $3 million a year, but she now reportedly wants around $5 million.

Then a private audio recording was leaked to the New York Times of Rachel Nichols suggesting that ESPN stripped her of her contractual NBA Finals hosting role and gave it to Taylor to make up for their past poor record on diversity. Some viewed that story leak, which came weeks before Taylor’s contract expired, as a warning by Taylor’s camp to ESPN that they would be painted as racist if they did not pay Taylor the money she is seeking.

Between that Nichols audio leak and this leak about NBC Sports, which leaves open the possibility of Taylor returning to ESPN if they up their offer, it’s easy to view the stories as negotiation ploys by Taylor’s camp.

Taylor is a top college football reporter at ESPN and host of “NBA Countdown.” At NBC, she could host “Football Night in America,” report on Notre Dame football, as well as host for their Olympics coverage and possibly other shows.

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