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ESPN’s Salary Issues Playing Huge Role in Wild Negotiations With Maria Taylor: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. It’s no secret that ESPN has made a big effort over the past year to avoid handing out bloated contracts.

Kenny Mayne was asked to take a 61% pay cut. MMA reporter Ariel Helwani recently left the network after his contract expired. Trey Wingo also recently departed.

Maria Taylor, who does sideline reporting for college football and studio hosting for the NBA, is currently in contract negotiations with ESPN, but this particular situation has had some interesting (and pretty public) twists and turns.

According to New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand, ESPN offered Taylor nearly $5 million per year, up from her reported salary of $1 million per year, during negotiations last year. Marchand says Taylor turned down the offer because she wanted to get into Stephen A. Smith–salary territory, which is $8 million a year.

Now, while they are in cost-cutting mode after a pandemic, Marchand says ESPN is offering Taylor a deal in the $2 million to $3 million dollar range.

If you listen to the SI Media Podcast, you have noticed that a big topic on recent episodes has been that life after ESPN isn’t so bad and media people can carve out a very successful career without the World Wide Leader.

I discussed that with Stugotz from The Dan Le Batard Show, Ryen Russillo and Rich Eisen.

Would Taylor turn down a salary close to $3 million a year from ESPN to go out on her own? Obviously, other networks that carry sports—CBS, Fox, NBC—would be more than interested in bringing Taylor into the fold, but it’s not likely those networks will get to a salary in the $8 million range.

While ESPN has shown that it has no problem with letting talent go, the network has also made it clear that it is willing to pay for certain personalities like Smith, Scott Van Pelt and Mike Greenberg.

Taylor is a star on the rise and, based on last year’s $5 million offer, ESPN knows that.

It will be fascinating to see whether ESPN buckles and ups its offer to keep Taylor. 

One other twist in this saga is that Taylor’s contact expires on July 20. The NBA Finals, which Taylor works as host of NBA Countdown, could end on July 22 if the series goes seven games.

2. Taylor got some public and cheeky support in her contract negotiations with ESPN from colleague Jalen Rose last night.

3. The latest episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast dropped Thursday morning and it features an interview with Green Light Podcast host and former Super Bowl champion Chris Long and our new weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment.

Long talks about why it would've been nice to see more star NFL players offer public support for Carl Nassib after the Raiders defensive lineman announced he was gay. Long also explains what the locker room reaction will be like for Nassib and why Nassib's announcement is important.

Long also discusses how he'd handle having teammates who refuses to get vaccinated, why he'd debate Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley and why players who won't get vaccinated are out of luck.

In honor of the Fourth of July weekend, Long power ranks Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, and also weighs in burgers vs. hot dogs vs. sausage.

In this week's Traina Thoughts segment, Jimmy and WFAN's Sal Licata talk about Tom Brady's personality, Scottie Pippen's wild interview with Dan Patrick, the Yankees woes and #FreeBritney.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

4. Yesterday we told you about White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito lighting into Josh Donaldson after Donaldson taunted the hurler following a home run. Donaldson also took some shots at former Chicago skipper Ozzie Guillen, who fired back last night in classic fashion.

5. As Joey Votto showed last night, baseball needs more curtain calls with a dab.

6. So here's what happens when pitchers aren't allowed to cheat.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: This is a historic day for anyone who grew up in the '80s.

Comedy doesn't get much better than that.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.