With ESPN reporting that ESPN employee Jon Gruden could be leaving for the Raiders, a key question is looming: Who will ESPN hire to replace Gruden on Monday Night Football?
Given dramatic changes to its financial model, the four-letter network may not be able to make a huge financial splash, but the platform (albeit shrinking) will nevertheless be attractive, to players and coaches alike. ESPN could promote from within, although the ranks seem thin. ESPN also could try to pilfer someone who’s currently, you know, in broadcasting with another network, or to lure someone who is (or could be) freshly retired from the NFL, either as a player or a coach.
Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Larry Fitzgerald; each would be intriguing options. Jay Cutler, who was poised to join FOX on the No. 2 team, also could be a candidate. Coaches who are on the outs or who could be choosing to call it quits also would be potential candidates.
A three-person booth also is possible, and ESPN also could decide to start from scratch, replacing play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough with someone who fits with the analyst(s) who are under consideration.
However it plays out, the search for Gruden’s replacement — if he jumps back into coaching — instantly will be one of the top stories of the offseason, given the significance of the gig.