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Here's how much Adam Schefter's new contract is reportedly worth

Why ESPN is paying a fortune to a reporter who gives his scoops away for free.

ESPN isn't done spending on A-list NFL talent.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported Tuesday ESPN inked Adam Schefter to a 5-year contract worth at least $9 million per year. (NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski also got five years at $7 million per. MLB insider Jeff Passan makes a reported $4 million.) 

Add in the $33 million per year ESPN just paid for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman and you get more than $40 million per year for the network's top NFL talent.

While a combined $165 million over five years for Buck and Aikman is an admittedly ridiculous number, at least ESPN will recoup something for their investment. Buck and Aikman are paid to broadcast games, and ESPN will use the audience those games attract to extract money from cable, satellite and streaming partners, as well as advertisers. 

Schefter, though, gives most of his work away for free. 

Sure, Schefter appears on ESPN's array of studio shows throughout the year, but there's no way his presence alone draws anywhere close to $9 million per year in revenue.

So what is ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro's strategy here? How does he justify this $250 million spending spree to his Disney bosses in Burbank?

Buck, Aikman, Schefter and Woj are avatars of ESPN's ambition. The network is banking that by paying Buck and Aikman $165 million to broadcast their games, the NFL will give them better games to broadcast

And Schefter (and Woj and Passan) are paid that money to, basically, fill the air time in between games. 

Not literally, of course -- that's what Stephen A. Smith and Mike Greenberg are for. But Schefter and Woj are the hands that deliver the food that the ESPN Take Complex spends the entire broadcast day, week and year digesting. They are the tip of the spear. ESPN pays the NFL $2.6 billion a year, and only a portion of that is for the games. A large portion of that $2.6 billion buys ESPN the right to play NFL highlights at a rate far greater than its competitors, which, in turn, allows ESPN to market itself as the default home for sports conversation 24/7/365. 

In that sense, Schefter's $9 million salary represents 0.34 percent of what ESPN pays the NFL each year. You could argue he's a bargain, even if he gives away the good stuff for free.