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The NFL broadcaster game of thrones is underway

Troy Aikman is reportedly leaving Fox for ESPN, and the shockwaves of this move could eventually touch the field.

Troy Aikman is leaving Fox to join ESPN's Monday Night Football team, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported Wednesday night.

The move was a bit of surprise. Aikman's contract was up, but the belief was he would re-up with Fox, join Amazon's upstart Thursday Night package, or do both. Aikman has double-dipped between Thursdays and Sundays since Fox acquired the NFL's Thursday Night package in 2018.

Instead, Aikman is on the brink of moving to Monday nights. The Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback retired in 2000, joined Fox the following year, and was promoted to Fox's No. 1 booth in 2002. He and Cris Collinsworth worked alongside Joe Buck from 2002-04; Collinsworth later joined NBC, and Buck and Aikman have been a 2-man crew ever since, calling 17 NFC Championships, calling five Super Bowls as a pair. 

In Aikman, ESPN finally lands the A+ list talent the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader has spent years pining after. The network has made untold runs at Peyton Manning, which has worked, in a way. ESPN even tried to get NBC to trade Al Michaels back to them, to no avail. 

The Post reports ESPN could attempt to acquire Buck from Fox, which would be a seismic shift in the broadcast world.

Buck joined Fox in 1994, at 25 years old, when the upstart network was looking to buy its way into American living rooms through NFL rights. In the near 30 years since, Buck has become the voice of the network in every since of the word. He's been the network's lead Major League Baseball voice since 1996 and its lead NFL broadcaster since '02. The 8-time Emmy winner has called 24 World Series and six Super Bowls. Fox will keep the World Series through at least 2028 and owns Super Bowl rights this coming season and again in the 2024 campaign.

For all those reasons, it would be a surprise if Buck left Fox, but either way he'll have to work with a new network or a new partner for the first time in more than 20 years.

The Post reports Aikman will get Tony Romo-level money. Aikman's less-successful successor in the Dallas Cowboys quarterback room inked a (still) ridiculous 10-year, $180 million contract in late February 2020, weeks before the pandemic ground the American economy to a halt. 

Moving forward, the NFL will have five broadcast partners: CBS and Fox on Sunday afternoons; NBC on Sunday nights, ESPN on Monday nights and, now, Amazon on Thursdays. Four could have new No. 1 announcers soon. 

Industry insiders expect Al Michaels to call the Amazon games. His contract is up with NBC and all but announced his departure during last week's Super Bowl, with Mike Tirico sliding up to call the Sunday night package.

That takes care of two, and the Aikman news could affect two more. Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick have called ESPN's Monday Night games for the past two seasons, but the network hasn't seemed enamored with its No. 1 crew from the start.  

For a time, it seemed the network was grooming Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit to move from Saturday nights to Monday nights, but the Aikman acquisition could change those plans. Levy, Buck, or someone else entirely could be working alongside Aikman come September.

Either way, ESPN is increasing its NFL investment, starting immediately. ESPN and ABC will carry 25 games in 2022, up from 18 this season, and is now back in the Super Bowl rotation for the first time in two decades; ABC will carry the Big Game in 2027, its first since the Steelers beat the Seahawks in Detroit to close the 2005 season. 

With how ridiculous the money has become in the booth, the shockwaves of Aikman leaving Fox for ESPN could touch the field. Now that Aikman is off the board, Amazon needs a No. 1 voice to pair with Michaels. Sean Payton, recently retired, could be an option. Or the Jeff Bezos behemoth could go even more current. The Post reports Amazon could present Sean McVay with an offer that would take him from coaching the Los Angeles Rams' title defense to analyzing it. 

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