James Brown CBS NFL Screen grab: CBS

As it prepares to broadcast Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, the future of CBS’ NFL coverage remains in flux. Entering this week, the contracts for most of the cast of the network’s pregame show, The NFL Today, were set to expire following Sunday’s game.

We now know that at least James Brown will be returning for at least the next two years, with The Athletic’s Andrew Marchand reporting that the show’s host has signed a new two-year contract with CBS. Meanwhile, analysts Bill Cowher, Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms remain un-signed past Sunday, leaving the future of the NFL’s longest tenured pregame show in question.

While it’s possible any combination — if not all of — Cowher, Esiason and Simms could re-sign, it’s hard not to view this as a offseason as a likely changing of the guard at CBS.

Most notably, Nate Burleson’s contract is also set to expire before the 2024 NFL season and the former wide receiver is expected to become a hot commodity well beyond sports where he also serves as a morning host for CBS Mornings. CBS will presumably do everything it can to keep Burleson at the network, and making the 42-year-old its top NFL studio analyst could be a part of the network’s pitch.

Additionally, CBS has plenty of young talent in its pipeline, including future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt, who did part-time work for the network in 2023 and is slated to return for 2024. Matt Ryan, Jason McCourty and Ross Tucker also served as game analysts for CBS this past season and would each make sense as potential additions to The NFL Today studio.

Regardless of what direction the storied program takes from here, re-signing Brown as the show’s host should provide stability. Maybe the network will move forward with Burleson and Watt as the new cornerstones of the show or perhaps it will continue to be a slower integration with some combination of Cowher, Esiason and/or Simms returning.

Either way, there will be at least one member of of  The NFL Today‘s old guard in Brown returning to the pregame show in 2024.

[The Athletic]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.