Kurt Warner Is the Best Realistic Option for ESPN After Losing Out on Tony Romo

Ryan Glasspiegel
Kurt Warner
Kurt Warner / Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images

ESPN got into a bidding war to try to poach Tony Romo from CBS for Monday Night Football, but ultimately Romo opted to stay at the Tiffany network for $17 million per year, as Andrew Marchand first reported.

The question immediately becomes where ESPN turns to now, and in my opinion their best realistic option is Kurt Warner. Warner, in the games he's been in the booth for NFL Network, delivers strong analysis. There is no risk that he will not be up for the job and thus blow up in ESPN's face. Warner is a Super Bowl champion and a former NFL MVP.

Almost certainly, ESPN will reach out to Peyton Manning for the third straight year, but other than the fact that Romo has now driven the price for a marquee analyst into the stratosphere there is little new evidence that Manning would change his mind from the last two times he told ESPN no. Obviously, if ESPN could somehow land him, it would be like winning the Mega Millions as a consolation prize in the Romo sweepstakes.

None of the players who would have been strong candidates for an immediate leap to a premier booth -- Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Greg Olsen -- wound up retiring. Eli Manning did retire, but I'm not even reflexively certain that he'd be a better option than Warner for anything other than his name recognition in football's first family.

It will assuredly be interesting to see where ESPN opts to go from here.