ESPN might have to move on to Plan C.
After striking out on Tony Romo, who agreed to a massive contract extension with CBS, ESPN reportedly turned its attention to forming a “Monday Night Football” booth featuring Al Michaels and Peyton Manning. However, sources told the New York Post on Tuesday that NBC declined ESPN’s initial request to engage in trade talks for Michaels, who has two years remaining on his current contract to call “Sunday Night Football.”
So, what now?
Neither Joe Tessitore nor Booger McFarland has been informed he won’t return to “Monday Night Football” this season, but all signs seem to point toward ESPN wanting to shake up its broadcast booth after the duo failed to resonate with fans throughout the 2019 campaign.
Sources told the New York Post that ESPN has begun talks with Manning in hopes of signing him with or without Michaels. Still, it’s unclear how successful ESPN will be in its pursuit, as Manning never has said directly he’d like to become a broadcaster.
If not Manning, then ESPN theoretically could consider a wide range of options for its “Monday Night Football” analyst role with Philip Rivers, Kurt Warner and Steve Young among the names tossed around Tuesday by the New York Post. Or the network could turn to a familiar group.
ESPN has toyed with the idea of a booth comprised of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese, sources told the Post. That trio, as you might recall, worked the the back end of the “Monday Night Football” doubleheader last season.
Basically, it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly ESPN will focus if it ultimately strikes out on Michaels and/or Manning — as it did with Romo — but big changes still could be on the horizon for the “Monday Night Football” booth ahead of the 2020 NFL season.