Jack Dempsey/Associated Press
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, the network will make the “requisite inquiry” to Manning about his availability, noting that it would be willing to top the $6.5 million paid to Jon Gruden in the past. He has also spent more time at ESPN after working on the show Detail on ESPN+.
However, Marchand noted that “the expectation is Manning will stay on the sidelines.”
Manning remains one of the most recognizable people in the sport despite retiring in 2015, but he continues to keep his options open.
Another possibility for ESPN could be signing Tony Romo away from CBS. He is set to make $3 million this year in his final season under contract with CBS, but every other network could be involved in a bidding war for the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback.
While Witten struggled in his first year as an announcer, Romo has received wide praise for his in-game analysis and worked the Super Bowl this February.
Otherwise, other options for the booth are Kurt Warner, Jesse Palmer, Louis Riddick and Matt Hasselbeck, who were all in the “final mix” for the Monday Night Football role a year ago before it went to Witten.
At the very least, Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland will likely remain in the booth “barring a Manning Hail Mary.”