Jim Nantz, like everyone else on planet Earth, reportedly wants a raise in his next contract.
In a piece of news that clearly wasn’t planted by Sandy Montag, Nantz’s agent (the one person directly quoted by name in the article), the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that Nantz wants a salary that surpasses Tony Romo’s $17.5 million per year. Given that Nantz reportedly only (hah, “only”) makes $6.5 million a year on his current contract, that would represent a raise of over $10 million.
But here’s the thing: which network can give Nantz everything he wants aside from CBS?
Nantz has a special relationship with the Masters, and wants to call the event at least until he’s 75. Augusta National only signs one-year contracts with broadcasters, so the event could conceivably bail on CBS for another network if Nantz goes elsewhere. But given the longstanding relationship between the two parties, would Augusta really want to move all of its coverage to NBC, ABC/ESPN, or Fox just to get Nantz on the call?
ESPN would probably be the most viable suitor for Nantz’s services other than CBS, given their relationships with the Masters, the NFL, and even (non-NCAA Tournament) college basketball. Nantz could call the same general slate of events as he currently does for CBS while earning a much larger paycheck. However, given the most recent round of layoffs at ESPN this month, would it really be a good look to throw a record amount of money at a play by play broadcaster before dumping billions into NFL rights? I think any network would love to get their hands on a broadcaster like Nantz, but is the upgrade for the NFL package and *maybe* the Masters really worth it?
NBC could theoretically be a dark horse too, thanks to their ownership of Golf Channel and premier NFL rights. The age and rumored retirement of Al Michaels also helps – who better to step in than Nantz? But I think that hiring Nantz to replace Michaels would also push Mike Tirico out the door, which would open up other holes in NBC’s coverage (Olympics, Notre Dame, Football Night in America) that Nantz might not be the best fit (or have the desire) for.
Asking for your salary to be more than doubled while working in sports during a pandemic probably isn’t the best idea. Nantz is clearly one of the best in the business and deserving of all the honors bestowed upon him, but it really seems like this opening salvo is backing him into a corner. If that’s the salary Nantz is truly craving at this point in time, he might find himself having to sacrifice some of the events he wants to call in order to get it, because it’s hard to see CBS giving in to his desires at this point in time.