The 2022 NFL offseason promised to be a significant one when it came to sports media, and it has delivered. There were been big moves at the largest NFL rightsholding networks in the first month of the offseason and the future only promises more shuffling of personnel. Each move, big and small, will have lasting impacts on next year's broadcasts and possibly beyond.
Here are all the biggest NFL broadcasting moves of the offseason.
Troy Aikman, ESPN
Easily the biggest domino to fall so far, Troy Aikman opted out of his final year at FOX and went to ESPN on a huge five-year, $90 million deal. The news of the deal has significant ramifications around the industry. It breaks up the longtime Joe Buck-Aikman duo as the No. 1 booth at FOX, which could possibly lead to the end of Buck's long tenure with the network and at minimum creates a void at the top color commentator spot. Aikman joining ESPN means he won't go to Amazon, who were reportedly hoping to land Aikman to further entice Al Michaels to sign on for Thursday Night Football.
And, of course, it means ESPN now has a very high-priced analyst to find a place for. Brian Griese left the network to join the 49ers,, so Aikman could fill in as a natural replacement there alongside Steve Levy and Louis Riddick. But Aikman wasn't in a three-man booth at FOX and ESPN might not want to have too many cooks in the kitchen alongside their new investment. They could move Riddick and go with Levy and Aikman. They could keep Levy and Riddick together and find another partner for Aikman to create a 1A and 1B booth situation. The short of it is that there are big decisions to be made all over the industry as a result of Aikman's deal with the four-letter network, and the full extent of the ripple effects may not be realized until the start of next season.
Kirk Herbstreit, Amazon
After Aikman went to ESPN, Amazon presumably moved onto their next target and got him, signing Kirk Herbstreit to be their color commentator for TNF games next year. It's an ideal setup for Herbstreit, who will continue with his College GameDay duties at ESPN while fulfilling his wish of trying to juggle NFL and NCAAF at the same time. Because Herbstreit's deal with Amazon doesn't take him away from ESPN, the shockwaves of this deal are far smaller than Aikman's. But it does begin to shape Amazon's vision for their booth. The next step is finding someone to pair with Herbstreit, and it does not feel inevitable anymore that Al Michaels will sign on for Thursday Night Football.
Joe Buck, ESPN
Joe Buck's monumental decision to follow his old partner Aikman to the Worldwide Leader was a stunning move. He'll presumably take the reins on lead MNF duties but gives up calling the World Series in the process. For the first time in decades, we'll have an NFL Sunday that doesn't feature Buck's iconic voice. His departure also leaves several gaping holes at FOX. Who will take over as the No. 1 PBP man for the late window on Fall Sundays? Who will succeed Buck as the voice of the World Series? Lots of decisions to be made.
Al Michaels, Amazon
On March 21, Andrew Marchand reported that Michaels finally reached a deal with Amazon to do the Thursday Night Football matchups for the 2022 season. It's a deal that's been long in the making even as Michael's counterparts changed companies around the industry. Michaels will reportedly have a salary in the same range as Joe Buck's and will pair with Kirk Herbstreit for this season. Michaels' deal will last for three seasons, which seems about right for the 77-year old. Amazon got their No. 1 target for play-by-play. It'll be fascinating to see how Michaels matches with Herbstreit after years of being with Cris Collinsworth.
Moves On The Horizon
The two moves above are the only ones set in stone to some degree. What follows is a list of potential names who could possibly move in the near future based on the information we already know.
Erin Andrews: News recently broke that Andrews' contract with FOX is about to expire. The network reportedly will make a strong move to keep her. It seems likely she'll stick with FOX since she's been there for a decade now, but Aikman leaving was the kind of shock that opens the door to just about anything.
This list will be updated throughout the offseason.