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NBC trading Al Michaels to ESPN would make sense for all parties

An Al Michaels-Peyton Manning duo on “Monday Night Football” would be great. What could NBC get in return?

New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

A broadcaster trade!? Inject this into my sports-loving veins. Andrew Marchand, a prominent sports media columnist for the New York Post, reported that ESPN is seeking to trade for NBC’s Al Michaels to pair with Peyton Manning for Monday Night Football.

A potential broadcast-altering trade that would benefit both parties with a legendary announcer who’s already been traded before? I love it.

As I’ve written about before regarding the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, the NFL is looking to redo its broadcast rights soon. The sooner the better for the owners. When the TV rights become available, it’s widely thought ESPN/ABC (Disney) would like a bigger package of games. Currently, it has Monday Night Football and one wild card playoff game.

In order to help sell the network (we know in the end money will talk), ESPN wants to upgrade its NFL announcing duo. It’s the same thought process that CBS had when it gave Tony Romo a massive new deal: the network wants all the firepower it can amass before entering negotiations. Having Michaels and Manning in the booth would most certainly help ESPN with that.

For NBC, trading Michaels does make sense because Mike Tirico is waiting in the bullpen. Tirico, who had previously done play-by-play for Monday Night Football, came to NBC in 2016. While he was a studio host for the Olympics, he was signed to eventually to replace Michaels as the lead voice of NFL games. Tirico calls Thursday Night Football games and has done a few select Sunday night games, but has never gotten the chance at the full-time role because Michaels is still there. This move would allow NBC to move Tirico into the booth for the Sunday Night Football gig and most likely cut some salary.

However, the best part of any potential trade is our discussion about compensation.

And this trade is no different. The Booger Mobile for Michaels, straight up? Who says no? But on a serious note, ESPN could give up anything it owns, like when it traded Michaels to NBC for the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. True story.

We can speculate about an entertainment swap, but that could be anything, like NBC getting the rights to American Idol or The Bachelor. Instead, let’s focus on which ESPN personalities could actually be on the move.

If NBC is looking for a straight play-by-play swap:

  • ESPN has Rece Davis from the college side to offer NBC. Still, I see no way ESPN would break up its best football broadcast team, Davis and Kirk Herbstreit, to make its NFL duo better.
  • If we jump sports, legendary basketball broadcaster Mike Breen could go over to NBC to call football games, which he’s done in the past. But again, does ESPN want to break up a talented NBA broadcasting group to help their football package?
  • Maybe a young up-and-coming broadcaster like Adam Amin could be who NBC would want to target.

In the end, I don’t just see ESPN giving NBC a play-by-play announcer.

While SNF color commentator Cris Collinsworth isn’t going anywhere, I could see NBC wanting new blood for its analysts spots for pregame and/or other football shows, including radio.

If NBC wants younger talent:

  • Dan Orlovsky, who is a rising star, would be someone I’d attempt to trade for if I were in charge at NBC. He’d be all over the platform and would make people smarter.
  • Louis Riddick would do the same, but I think he’s eyeing a NFL job and wouldn’t be long for NBC.
  • On the audio side, NBC does have a small presence on radio and could be looking to grab an ESPN host to increase its market share or grow its radio brand or podcast department. Mina Kimes or Bill Barnwell could be candidates for that, though both are also writers at

The options for this trade are endless and I’m here to see it through. I hope it happens because I’d love to hear the pairing of Al Michaels and Peyton Manning on future ESPN broadcasts.