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SN exclusive: Jesse Palmer re-signs with ESPN after bidding war with Fox

Sporting News logo Sporting News 3 days ago Michael McCarthy

Jesse Palmer © (Getty Images) Jesse Palmer Jesse Palmer has agreed to remain with ESPN after being hotly pursued by Fox Sports, sources tell Sporting News.

The college football analyst signed a seven-figure, multiyear contract to remain at ESPN, sources said. His previous contract with the network was set to expire in July.

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Sources also said Palmer, the lead analyst for ESPN's SEC Network, will no longer call games; instead, he is expected to move into the studio full time for halftime and postgame coverage during Saturday games. That's where he used to work on "College Football Live" with the late John Saunders.

Moving to the studio will enable him to work out of New York, where he serves as a special contributor for ABC's "Good Morning America." Palmer will continue to serve in that role under a separate deal. Many non-sports fans may also remember Palmer as the first pro athlete to headline ABC's "The Bachelor" in 2004.

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Palmer and his representative, Reed Bergman of Playbook Inc., could not be reached for comment. ESPN and Fox declined to comment.

Palmer is viewed as one of the sharpest football analysts around. Fox tried to hire him as an NFL game analyst for the 2017 season; he would have joined an analyst stable that already includes Troy Aikman and newcomer Jay Cutler.

The former Florida quarterback quickly moved to the top of the college football analyst ranks after joining ESPN from Fox Sports in 2007. In 2014 he was named the SEC Network's lead analyst to work with now-retired play-by-play legend Brent Musburger. Prior to that, Palmer called "ESPN College Football Primetime Thursday Night" with Chris Fowler, Rece Davis, Joe Tessitore and Dave Flemming. He also co-hosts "Palmer & Pollack" with former Georgia and NFL star David Pollack on ESPNU.

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Like Charissa Thompson, Michael Strahan, Robin Roberts and Josh Elliott, Palmer is one of the few TV sports types to successfully branch out into news/entertainment reporting. In addition to his work on "GMA," he also hosts Food Network's "Spring Baking Championship."

Palmer, a Toronto native, began his broadcast career with Fox Sports Net after his pro football career with the NFL's Giants and 49ers and CFL's Montreal Alouettes ended. He later called NFL games for Fox in 2006.

The signing of Palmer, 38, shows ESPN still wants to keep its young stars depite the recent mass layoffs of 100 anchors, reporters and analysts. The agreement is also the latest move in a busy offseason for football TV talent. Among the changes:

ESPN: Longtime college football analyst Mark May was among the victims of the mass layoffs this spring. . . . Samantha Ponder will take over for Chris Berman as host of "NFL Sunday Countdown." Berman hosted the show for 31 years. He's moving to an emeritus role within ESPN. . . . Suzy Kolber was named host of "Monday Night Countdown" and the halftime and postgame shows for "Monday Night Football." . . . Trey Wingo will host all three nights of ESPN's annual NFL Draft coverage. He's also taking over as Mike Golic's new partner on "Mike & Mike in the Morning," succeeding Mike Greenberg, who will begin his own solo show Jan. 1, 2018. . . . Maria Taylor of SEC Network will replace Ponder on "College GameDay."

NBC Sports: The NFL surprisingly relented on its position that NBC and CBS's No. 1 Sunday announce teams must also work "Thursday Night Football." As a result, Mike Tirico will step up as the new "Thursday Night" play-caller while the venerable Al Michaels will continue to work "Sunday Night Football" games. With Tirico also slated to succeed Bob Costas as prime-time Olympic host, the former ESPN talent is "quickly becoming the face of NBC Sports," according to Neil Best of Newsday.

CBS Sports: The Tiffany network coldly dumped No. 1 game analyst Phil Simms after 20 years and replaced him with a TV rookie, Tony Romo. The former Cowboys QB declines to use the word "retired." Many are betting that Romo is one Dak Prescott injury from a return to America's Team. Simms was moved to the "NFL Today" pregame show to work with James Brown, Bill Cowher, Boomer Esiason and new hire Nate Burleson.

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