While ESPN pulled the plug on Grantland in November, they kept several writers from the site on through their existing contracts, and now they’ve announced that they’ll keep one of the site’s most prominent writers for some time to come. NFL writer Bill Barnwell has signed a multi-year extension to remain with ESPN, and in what looks like an expanded role. In addition to writing a Monday NFL column online and contributing to ESPN The Magazine, he’ll be taking on further audio, radio and TV responsibilities, according to ESPN’s release:

Bill Barnwell, one of ESPN Digital and Print’s leading voices, has signed a new multi-year extension to remain with ESPN. As part of his new deal, Barnwell will continue to write his popular NFL column for ESPN.com. On Monday, he launched a new flagship ESPN Audio podcast, The Bill Barnwell Show (episode one). He will also contribute to ESPN Radio and television and have the opportunity to expand into other sports.

Barnwell joined Grantland in 2011 and has been with ESPN since November. His ESPN.com NFL columns, which combine quantitative and qualitative analysis to dig deeper into how teams win games and how players impact them, rank among the site’s most popular features.

“During his time with both Grantland and ESPN, Bill has proven to be a thoughtful and creative signature voice with an ever-increasing following. His work makes fans smarter about football, and we are committed to finding even more opportunities for Bill to elevate our coverage of the NFL and other sports,” said Chad Millman, Vice President & Editorial Director, Domestic Digital Content, ESPN.

Keeping Barnwell looks like a smart move for ESPN, as he fits in with both their growing embrace of advanced statistics and their desire to still reach the younger audience Grantland drew. An edge Barnwell has, too, is that he’s very proficient at working those stats into more traditional columns and approaches, making his writing appealing to more than just the hardcore stats fans. It’s going to be interesting to see how he does with podcasts and radio/TV appearances, but it seems logical for ESPN to try and take advantage of his skills in a variety of mediums. We’ll see just how ESPN uses him going forward, but he does have a substantial audience and a significant (and relatively unique) skill set. If given the right opportunities, that could make him a valuable asset for them indeed.

[ESPN Media Zone]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.