In its search for its “Thursday Night Football” analyst, Amazon has looked for big names, trying to lure Troy Aikman, Sean McVay and John Lynch into the booth when it begins its exclusive coverage this fall.
It failed to land any of them.
Aikman left Fox for ESPN and $90-plus million, McVay stayed with the Rams, forgoing a potential $100 million offer, while Lynch quickly shut down talks after one dinner, choosing to remain as the 49ers’ GM.
Now, The Post has learned, Amazon is eyeing the biggest analyst in college football, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, for its lead NFL Thursday night game analyst spot.
Herbstreit is the analyst ESPN’s iconic College GameDay show revolves around and he is the network’s No. 1 college game analyst, including calling the national championship.
While Herbstreit is under contract with ESPN for around $6-plus million per year, sources have told The Post that the way his deal is written he would be allowed to do the NFL with another entity, while continuing on college for ESPN.
When dealing with someone of Herbstreit’s stature and with the budding rivalry between ESPN and Amazon, the language of the contract could potentially be looked at differently by lawyers. It could be disputed if ESPN has to allow Herbstreit to work for Amazon.
ESPN and Amazon both declined comment.
Substantial talks between the sides have not begun yet, but are expected to pick up shortly.
If Herbstreit can do it, it could mean a big payday for him. He has expressed a desire to call more NFL games. Amazon made a huge offer for Aikman and were prepared to potentially go to five years and $100 million for McVay, who chose to continue coaching with the Rams. Lynch could have at least doubled his around $5 million base salary as San Francisco’s GM. Aikman’s average salary at ESPN will be around three times Herbstreit’s.
Herbstreit would seemingly fit the criteria for Al Michaels to finally sign with Amazon. Amazon already brought in Michaels’ preferred producer in NBC’s Fred Gaudelli to oversee Thursday nights in the fall. But Michaels has not inked a contract, wanting to see who his analyst would be. Michaels has been opposed to an inexperienced partner. Herbstreit, in many ways, would seem like a perfect fit for Michaels.
If Amazon and Herbstreit were to make a deal, ESPN, according to sources, would want the option to still use Herbstreit on some NFL games. While continuing as the home of “Monday Night Football,” it will extend to 25 games a year in the next two years.
Herbstreit would continue on ESPN’s college football coverage.
Meanwhile, adding to the backdrop of Amazon’s potential move with Herbstreit is Joe Buck’s decision. Buck, the longtime voice of Fox Sports, is going to be faced with the choice of joining Aikman in the “Monday Night Football” booth or staying with Fox, where he is its lead NFL and MLB announcer.
If Buck stays with Fox, ESPN has looked at Michaels as a possibility to team with Aikman, but also would consider Herbstreit’s college football partner Chris Fowler and has CBS’ Ian Eagle on its list.