Following former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo finding great success as part of a commentary duo for CBS, other networks have been searching for their own version. NBC Sports may have accomplished this goal, according to the New York Post. New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees has reportedly agreed to a contract that will come into play following his eventual retirement.
According to the report, Brees will finish out his time with the Saints before this contract officially begins. He will also reportedly be groomed as Cris Collinsworth's replacement for Sunday Night Football. At 41 years old, there were questions about when he would walk away from the NFL, but the veteran agreed to a two-year deal worth $50 million in mid-March. Although Saints heads coach Sean Payton has previously stated that 2020 will be Brees' "final season."
"Like all NFL fans, we look forward to watching Drew continue his Hall of Fame career this fall, and we are confident his post-playing career will be just as successful," NBC Sports spokesman Greg Hughes said to the NY Post. Terms of the deal were not released, but ESPN was believed to be the highest bidder with a salary in the $6 million range. NBC's offer was reportedly competitive.
Brees is currently expected to start as a game analyst for Notre Dame football and as a studio analyst for Football Night in America, which sets the stage for Sunday Night Football. NBC currently relies on Al Michaels and Collinsworth to helm the long-running Sunday night broadcast, but the 75-year-old Michaels is expected to retire following the 2022 Super Bowl. He will be replaced by Mike Tirico, who previously did play-by-play for Monday Night Football.
ESPN has been searching for a commentary duo or group that will bring Monday Night Football back to prominence. Long viewed as the premier football game each week, this ESPN-exclusive broadcast has received considerable criticism since the departures of Jon Gruden (hired as Las Vegas Raiders coach) and Tirico (hired by NBC). Booger McFarland, Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten served as the commentary team in 2018. However, Witten returned to the Dallas Cowboys ahead of the 2019 season and left Tessitore and McFarland as the primary duo.
The Worldwide Leader in Sports has been searching for new options in recent months and has reportedly offered contracts to both Brees and former NFL star Peyton Manning. Both of the Super Bowl-winning signal-callers have turned down ESPN. The NY Post reports that Steve Levy is a strong candidate to place Tessitore while former NFL players Dan Orlovsky, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese are listed as internal options to replace McFarland. NFL Network's Kurt Warner and CBS Sports' Nate Burleson are also considered to be options.