Stephen A. Smith’s new five-year contract will make him ESPN’s highest-paid sportscaster with an annual salary that will approach $8 million per year, according to sources.
This will move Smith past Mike Greenberg’s $6.5 million, which was ESPN’s previous known highest salary. Greenberg is the host of “Get Up!”
When The Post first reported negotiations between Smith and ESPN in April, some in the industry felt Smith might be able to negotiate a $10 million annual salary.
Smith got nearly $8 million, but he received some money upfront, making it more worth his while to re-up with a year left on his current deal.
Smith will continue to be front and center on ESPN’s air with his daily morning show “First Take,” as well as on “SportsCenter” and the network’s NBA coverage. Though the finer points of the contract are not fully completed, Smith has already started hosting Wednesday’s “SportsCenter” leading into ESPN’s NBA schedule that night.
The Post previously reported Smith will give up his national ESPN Radio show next year.
ESPN wants to try to find a fit for Smith on its direct-to-consumer subscription service, ESPN+, and for him to continue to be active through his and their social media channels.
Now, well into his second act with ESPN, Smith has more of a routine. Though he is somewhat polarizing, one thing that can’t be denied is that he works hard. He is omnipresent on ESPN. He still will be under the terms of the new deal, but ESPN plans to be a bit more strategic in Smith’s usage with appointment viewing for “SportsCenter.”
Smith’s contract could be the high point for ESPN broadcasters for a while, though ESPN could make a run at free-agent-to-be NFL game analyst Tony Romo.
ESPN is expected to have interest in Romo for “Monday Night Football,” and Romo could try to eclipse John Madden’s record for an NFL analyst of $8 million. Before Jon Gruden left ESPN for the Raiders, he reportedly made $6.5 million to do Monday nights. Romo’s contract talks will accelerate after the NFL season.