Tony Romo will remain with CBS thanks to a massive new deal that makes the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback that highest-paid analyst in the history of televised sports, the network confirmed late Friday night.
The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reported that the long-term deal will pay Romo around $17 million per season, more than double the $8 million Fox paid John Madden to keep him from jumping to ABC back in 1994. The exact terms of the deal are unknown.
To put the deal into perspective, Romo made $17 million or more in just three of the 14 seasons he played for the Cowboys.
In addition to his quick rise into one of football’s most entertaining and informative broadcasters, Romo was able to secure such a lucrative deal because of the serious interest he received from ESPN, who reportedly wanted him the Monday Night Football booth. By locking down Romo, CBS prevented him from becoming a free agent in March.
Despite ESPN’s genuine interest, it was always unlikely Romo was going to leave CBS, where he will continue to partner with longtime play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz and producer Jim Rikhoff. Not only are Romo and Nantz friends outside of the booth, CBS will broadcast next year’s Super Bowl.
“I am ecstatic times 10,” Nantz told the Athletic’s Richard Deitsch Friday night.
Romo’s deal is also a clear sign CBS will bid aggressively to keep its AFC package and remain in the Super Bowl rotation when the NFL opens up rights negotiations. The league’s current deal with CBS, NBC, and Fox ends in 2020, while its deal with ESPN for Monday Night Football ends in 2021.
The move leaves ESPN with a difficult decision to make regarding its often-maligned Monday Night Football booth, which currently features Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland. Outside of convincing Peyton Manning to join its broadcast, there are no obvious choices ESPN could immediately bring in who would have anywhere near the impact Romo could have had. ESPN’s parent company, Disney, is also expected to aggressively bid on NFL rights, including bringing the NFL back to ABC and securing a spot in the Super Bowl rotation.
The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis wrote that Romo’s giant payday and ESPN’s lack of an obvious choice for the Monday Night Football booth are a reminder of the importance for networks to develop a No. 2 analyst.