The last few years have seen lots of discussion of NFL tight end Greg Olsen (seen above on The Rich Eisen Show in January 2018) as a future broadcaster, particularly with his in-season work for Fox Sports in 2017 and 2019, his guest analyst work on Fox’s Super Bowl coverage this year, his work on Fox’s XFL coverage, his guest analyst stints on ESPN’s pre-Super Bowl coverage in 2018 and 2019, his audition for a larger ESPN role early in 2018, and his consideration of leaving playing at the end of 2018. With Joseph Person of The Athletic reporting in January that the 34-year-old Olsen had received full-time broadcasting offers from multiple networks and with the Carolina Panthers parting ways with Olsen at the end of January, discussion of him heading to the broadcast booth intensified, even with agent Drew Rosenhaus saying Olsen hadn’t closed the door on playing. It turns out that he will be playing some more, at least this season; ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Olsen has signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks.
Former Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen is signing a one-year, $7 million deal that includes $5.5M gtd with the Seahawks, per source. Olsen visited and negotiated with Buffalo, Seattle and Washington but felt most comfortable with the Seahawks.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 18, 2020
Olsen told Richard Deitsch of The Athletic in early February that the broadcasting offers he’d received were still on the table, but that “The last thing I would want is to make a rash decision to not play and go do some TV, and always kinda wonder what could’ve been?” So it sounds like his heart is still in playing, at least for now, and he was able to find a situation that he felt made sense for him. And he told Dan Patrick last fall that “if you’re on the fence at all about playing, you probably shouldn’t play,” so this doesn’t sound like he even made it to the fence.
If Olsen thinks he still can play and teams still want to pay him handsomely to play, it probably makes some sense for him to stick with it as long as he can. And that doesn’t preclude him from heading to TV after he does hang his cleats up for good. Of course, the specific broadcasting offers he has at the moment (and we don’t even know what those are) may not still be there next year. But plenty of networks seem very high on Olsen, so it seems likely he’ll still get some broadcasting opportunities when he does decide to quit playing.
Olsen’s return to the NFL is also notable for what it means for the overall NFL broadcasting picture. That’s one repeatedly-discussed high-profile analyst option who won’t be heading to the booth, and that could have a few effects. It could possibly boost the Tony Romo market even further, with one less other option out there. (And on that front, it’s notable that Drew Brees got some broadcasting buzz as well this offseason, but also decided to stick with playing for now.) It could mean that ESPN (if they don’t land Romo) goes with less dramatic changes to Monday Night Football; Olsen wasn’t necessarily headed there, especially given how much of his recent work has been with Fox, but he did receive a bit of discussion as a MNF option. And this could also make for less movement near the top of networks’ announcing pairings; if Olsen had gone into broadcasting, he probably would have been put relatively high up on the pairings at whatever network landed him (especially given how many networks were reportedly interested in him), and that would have created some domino effects. With him continuing to play for at least another year, that’s one less incoming analyst to shake things up.
[Adam Schefter on Twitter]