NFL free agency's biggest bidding war hasn’t even started yet. Tony Romo is entering the final year of his deal with CBS and wants to earn than $10 million annually in his next contract, according to the Sporting News’ Michael McCarthy.
Romo, who’s dazzled in his two years in the CBS booth, might be the most sought-after free agent in sports broadcasting history. He will likely have a bevy of suitors at his disposal, including tech giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google, which are looking to get into the NFL game. Amazon already streams “Thursday Night Football.”
"Even $20 million would be a rounding error for Amazon,” a source told McCarthy.
There is precedent for lead NFL analysts commanding big bucks. ABC paid John Madden $8 million per year at his height and Fox reportedly pays Troy Aikman around $7.5 million annually. Jon Gruden was making around $6.5 million per year when he worked for ESPN.
If any sports commentator could demand ten figures, it’s Romo. He’s the best football analyst today and maybe the best of all-time. His keen insight and clairvoyance is second-to-none, as he was more on top of the Patriots’ offense in the AFC championship than ex-Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. Romo also showed off his stellar chemistry with partner Jim Nantz in the Super Bowl, with the two laughing and joking their way through an absolutely dreadful game.
Though Romo has received offers to return to the playing field, he appears to be happy in the booth. The former Cowboys QB earned $127.4 million during his career, per Spotrac, so money may not be his primary concern. He has a great setup with CBS and calls some of the most marquee NFL games of the year. Even if he receives more money elsewhere, he could opt to stay at CBS for the exposure.
Though it may seem preposterous for any network to pay a sports announcer $10 million, keep in mind Romo is the face of CBS’ most valuable and profitable property. Nobody would balk at the lead actor of a weekly sitcom or drama bringing in that kind of cash. Romo is deserving of the payday, and he will almost certainly get it.
The question is, where?