Tony Romo won't be leaving CBS' lead NFL broadcast team anytime soon.
According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, the former Dallas Cowboys' quarterback has agreed to a new deal to remain at CBS. The deal will pay him $17 million annually, blowing past the prior record of $8 million made by NFL icon John Madden. ESPN's Adam Schefter says that the deal will be for a minimum of three years, and it could become a 10-year pact based on whether CBS is able to retain its NFL rights after the next CBA is agreed to.
Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald says that ESPN had shown interest in Romo as someone that could join what's become a much-maligned Monday Night Football booth. CBS, realizing how much of a star Romo has become, made him an offer he couldn't refuse to stay with the network.
Romo joined CBS' lead booth with Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson for the 2017 season, following an injury-plagued end to his 13-season NFL career. In addition to his youthful-like enjoyment of the sport, Romo has become popular for his ability to predict how plays will unfold:
While retaining Romo is a massive win for CBS, it has to be deflating for ESPN, who has struggled to put together a well-received broadcasting crew since Mike Tirico left after the 2015 season. For whatever flaws Jon Gruden may have had, opinions on ESPN's booth have gotten significantly worse since he returned to the sideline with the Raiders in the 2018 season. Romo's former teammate, Jason Witten, was panned in his one season as Joe Tessitore's partner in the booth in 2018. After Witten returned to the Cowboys in 2019, Booger McFarland joined the booth from the sideline and promptly became a meme.
It should come as no surprise then, that Jackson says that ESPN will pivot to searching for other possible fits. Marchand says that five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, who has a minor role in ESPN's NFL coverage, will likely get the right of first refusal. It's unclear, though, if Manning would have interest in the position. If he declines, it will be interesting to see if ESPN just brings back Tessitore and McFarland for another season.