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ESPN Offered Skip Bayless a Reported $30 Million to Reunite With Stephen A. Smith

Skip Bayless definitely secured the bag when he inked a new four-year, $32 million contract with Fox Sports on Thursday. But apparently we were rather close to seeing Bayless back on ESPN, as the network went all-out in an effort to get Bayless back and reunite him with Stephen A. Smith.reunite him with Stephen A. Smith.

New York Post — In August, ESPN offered the 69-year-old Bayless a four-year deal in the $30 million range. There is disagreement among sources on ESPN’s best offer, as some officials had it as high as $31 million and others had it as low as $26.5 million. The desire, though, was unquestioned.

The emphasis of the move was not to put the “First Take” band back together, but rather to bolster the network’s burgeoning new subscription platform, ESPN+. 

The duo would have appeared on ESPN on a variety of programs in an effort to drive viewers to watch and subscribe to ESPN+.

Man, we were so close. We could have had the GOATs back together doing what they were born to do for the low price of $5.99 a month. The kids today just don't know what it was like when these two were on TV every day. You had to be there.

If ESPN really did offer in the $30 million range and $32 million got it done for Fox, the people at ESPN should be ashamed of themselves. Pony up another $5 million and watch the ESPN+ subscriptions skyrocket. Maybe Bayless really does just love being at Fox that much, but I'd imagine a little more money and he'd have jumped at the opportunity to get the band back together.

Regardless, Bayless' original contract with Fox was worth $24 million over four years, so he's made himself even more money in the time he's been there and there's no sign he's going to stop cashing those checks anytime soon. He's going to be playing his schtick well into his 80s. But damn, it would have been nice to see him going at it with Stephen A. again. You don't know what you have until it's gone.