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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Ryan Clark Finalizing New Deal With ESPN

  • A pending contract could put him over $2 million per year, say sources.
  • A broadcast free agent took the risk of negotiating in public.
Ryan Clark
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Clark is on the brink of a new deal with ESPN that could make him one of the network’s highest-paid NFL analysts, sources tell Front Office Sports.

After his previous contract expired, the nine-year TV veteran took the risk of going public with his free-agent status. His gamble could be paying off.

The 44-year-old Clark is finalizing a new contract with ESPN, said sources familiar with the parameters, that’s believed to pay him over $2 million a year.

That would boost his pay beyond that of fellow ESPN analyst Mina Kimes, who earns $1.7 million annually, according to the New York Post. As part of the proposed ESPN contract, Clark will also be allowed to continue hosting Inside the NFL on the CW Network and his popular podcast, The Pivot.

The former Super Bowl champion with the Steelers joined ESPN in 2015. He’s become a mainstay on NFL Live, Get Up, First Take, and SportsCenter. In May, the Louisiana native won his first Sports Emmy for “Outstanding Personality/Studio Analyst.”

On Feb. 14, Clark posted a three-minute video on X (formerly known as Twitter) revealing his contract had expired. He also admitted he felt slighted by the terms of his last extension.

“It wasn’t what I wanted. I realized I had to do more. Honestly, I felt played. You know the worst thing for anybody from New Orleans is to feel played,” he said on the video. “I felt like I deserved something that they didn’t feel like I deserved. … And I said that day that in three years, I will be the best in the world doing this.”

Three years later, Clark has an Emmy in his back pocket and a proven track record of “crushing” shows at ESPN, he said. He punted the negotiating football back to his employer in the video.

“Somebody’s got to pay the piper. It’s either we get what we want or we make a decision to stand on what we’re worth. It’s not that I think I should be paid more than anybody that does the job. I just want what I’m worth.”

Still, Clark has a sense of humor. When I wrote a story that same day about Chris Russo signing an extension with ESPN, our photo showed Mad Dog on the Super Bowl TV set with Clark.

“LOLOL. Interesting pic to use of someone signing an extension,” tweeted Clark.

For decades, ESPN stars would never negotiate their contracts in public. But it’s a new day at the mothership. Stephen A. Smith, ESPN’s biggest star, has publicly stated he wants to be the network’s highest-paid talent under his next contract. Like Smith, Clark has set up outside projects like The Pivot and Inside the NFL that will give him a landing spot if his new ESPN contract falls apart at the last minute.

ESPN declined to comment for this story. Clark could not be reached.

Michael McCarthy’s “Tuned In” column is at your fingertips every week with the latest insights and ongoings around sports media. If he hears it, you will, too.

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