Former NFL star and ESPN host Keyshawn Johnson Former NFL star and ESPN host Keyshawn Johnson was an honoree at the 2022 Dick Vitale Gala in Sarasota, Fla.

The path has been cleared for former ESPN figure Keyshawn Johnson to join Fox Sports’ Undisputed. Since Johnson was caught up in the ESPN layoffs in June, there’s been lots of talk about him becoming one of the many new recurring guest hosts on FS1’s Undisputed, with central Undisputed figure Skip Bayless even announcing that this week.

But a key hurdle there has been Johnson’s ESPN contract, worth a reported $18 million over five years, which he signed in 2022. Those contracts tend to have significant non-compete provisions, which has held up post-ESPN work for many laid off in the past. And that led to pushback on Bayless’ comments that Johnson would join Undisputed. But, as per Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, Johnson has now reached a settlement with ESPN on the remainder of that contract, and will appear on Undisputed beginning Monday:

Keyshawn Johnson will be Skip Bayless’ new full-time partner on FS1’s “Undisputed” after Johnson reached agreement on a settlement of his $18 million contract with ESPN, The Post has learned.

Johnson is expected to start on Monday.

Earlier in the week, Bayless announced Johnson would be part of the show’s new team that includes contributors Richard Sherman, Michael Irvin and Rachel Nichols.

…Between the buyout with ESPN and the new deal with FS1, Johnson will make the same amount and will retain his audio rights, meaning he could still do radio or a podcast elsewhere, according to sources.

It’s certainly interesting to see that buyout cleared out and to see Johnson landing this Undisputed deal. While that had been rumored almost since Johnson’s June 30 layoff, it wasn’t sure to happen even after Bayless announced the move this week. And it’s definitely possible there could have been some extra hurdles here given Johnson’s destination, as the ESPN-FS1 relationship has often not been too cordial, from “alternative to the establishment” through billboards and on-air comments. But it now appears there won’t be additional difficulties in this case. We’ll see how this move works out for Johnson and Undisputed.

[The New York Post]

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.