Around the NFL: Matt Ryan Makes How Much!? Broadcast Musical Chairs, Free Agency Rankings, Bieniemy Stays in KC, More

Happy Friday! Let’s take a spin around the league and check in on a few things before we get ready to head into the weekend.

Troy Aikman Heads to ESPN Amid Broadcaster Musical Chairs

The voices of your favorite NFL broadcasts will sound a bit different next year.

As was discussed in Bullets, Troy Aikman agreed to a five-year deal in the $90 million-and-change range with ESPN, per Andrew Marchand of The New York Post. Marchand reports Aikman left FOX for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, but only after Amazon (which is getting the Thursday Night Football package) made an aggressive run at the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Marchand adds that Amazon was “in striking distance” of a deal with Aikman in recent weeks, but the Hall of Famer ultimately decided that ESPN and MNF would be his next assignment.

But who will work with Aikman in ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth? Why not start with a partner he is already familiar with:

Another Marchand report throws Joe Buck’s name into the ring. ESPN will try to poach Buck from FOX, which would keep a long-standing broadcast partnership together — albeit at a different network. Like when John Madden and Pat Summerall left CBS for FOX in the early 1990s. It’s a fascinating option, but would Buck want to leave FOX, and in all likelihood, his baseball duties? If Buck follows Aikman to ESPN, the MNF booth would cost ESPN something in the range of $200 million when it’s all said and done.

The two Marchand NFL stories are loaded with nuggets and tidbits on football broadcasts coming soon to a screen near you:

•   As for Amazon and their new exclusive Thursday Night Football broadcast, NFL Hall of Famer/former FOX broadcaster/current 49ers GM John Lynch was a target, but no deal was reached. Lynch will likely stay in his role with the 49ers for the time being.

•   Chris Collinsworth’s $12.5 million per year contract keeps him at NBC and partnering with Mike Tirico on Sunday Night Football.

•   Troy Aikman’s deal surpasses that of Tony Romo, whose 10-year pact worth $180 million was a market setter.

•   What about Sean McVay? Marchand notes that Amazon could try to pair Al Michaels with the Rams head coach on the Amazon NFL broadcasts. It would take a deal that would dwarf what the Rams would offer, I still don’t see that happening. However, it is becoming clear that Amazon is willing to pay top dollar for its broadcast team.

NFL Free Agency Rankings

Sheil Kapadia and The Athletic’s NFL staff have provided a comprehensive look at the 2022 free-agent class. Kapadia and the crew rank the top 150 players potentially looking for a new home next season. Kapadia has some notable Bears on the list, including wide receiver Allen Robinson (13th), Akiem Hicks (32nd), and Bilal Nichols (42nd) in the top-50.

Check it out:

Eric Bieniemy Staying Put in Kansas City

According to Herbie Teope at the KC Star, Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy interviewed for head coaching vacancies in Denver and New Orleans before both decided on other candidates. And after not getting a head coaching gig for the second straight year, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Bieniemy will stick around in KC as the team’s OC. No details are known, but this could presumably be a one-year deal that lets Bieniemy throw his hat into the head coaching ring again next year. Bieniemy has interviewed with 15 teams since 2019 for their vacant head coaching gig with no luck.

Bieniemy joined the Chiefs’ coaching staff in 2013, serving first as their running backs coach before replacing Mike Nagy as offensive coordinator in 2018. Soon enough, Nagy and Bieniemy will be co-workers again.

Extra Points …

•   Is this it for veteran offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth? Likely, but not if Wayne Gretzky has something to say about it:

•   Matt Ryan’s $48,662,500 cap hit in 2022 would be the largest cap hit for any player in NFL history:

•   The veteran quarterback is set to make $16.25 million in base salary, another $24.91 (prorated bonus), and $7.5 (roster bonus) in bonuses this season. If the Falcons cut him before June 1, they would save $8 million. But it would have $40.52 million in dead cap, which means Ryan will almost certainly be Atlanta’s starting QB for at least one more season. However, this might be his last dance with the Falcons. Looking ahead, Atlanta can free up $28 million and have only $15.6 million in dead cap if they cut Ryan before June 1, 2023:

•   4.24 …

•   Almost more impressive than Chris Johnson’s 40 time:

•   Justin Fields’ scamper against the 49ers and Jakeem Grant’s return TD against the Packers make appearances in the NFL’s top-100 plays of the 2021 season:

•   A wild wrinkle in the Van Jefferson story from Super Bowl Sunday on the latest episode of the Adam Schefter Podcast:

•   Here’s your adorable moment of the day:

•   David Bakhtiari is all of us. Please, just get this crap over with.

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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