Fox Sports management has an important strategic decision to make before the next football season — and not just about NFL media rights.
Shannon Sharpe’s current contract expires after July 2021, sources told Front Office Sports. The question now is whether Fox will compensate the three-time Super Bowl winner similarly to his controversial “Undisputed” co-host Skip Bayless.
Sharpe earns about half of Bayless’ annual salary, said sources. The Pro Football Hall of Famer makes an estimated $3 million-plus annually vs. around $6 million for Bayless, the reigning enfant terrible of morning sports TV.
Many would argue the funny, outspoken Sharpe has become as big a TV draw as Bayless, and the 52-year old’s social media following is now equal to that of the 69-year old Bayless.
“Shannon’s become a star in his own right. And do you really want to be paying a Black man half what his white co-star’s making?” said a source.
Sharpe’s been a loyal partner to Bayless, signing an extension of his original contract in September 2019. Bayless signed a contract extension with Fox last fall. If Sharpe does end up leaving Fox, sources peg former ESPNer Emmanuel Acho as a possible sparring partner for Bayless on “Undisputed.”
During previous contract negotiations, FS1’s executive vice president of content Charlie Dixon told FOS he’d be “mortified” if Sharpe left the network.