Troy Aikman Will Make 12 Years of Dallas Cowboys’ Salary in 3 With ESPN

Once the highest-paid NFL player as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Troy Aikman may soon be the highest-paid NFL broadcaster if reports linking him to Monday Night Football come to fruition. Given that the three-time Super Bowl champion already hinted that last month’s NFC Championship Game would be his final game with Fox Sports, for whom he worked the previous two decades, we’re going to go ahead and assume his deal with ESPN is all but done.

And even if he doesn’t end up at the Worldwide Leader, a deal with Amazon would likely be just as lucrative. Either way, Fox will need to find a replacement. And as our headline tells you, the money Aikman will receive is our main focus today, not his place of employment.

As for exactly how lucrative Aikman’s deal will be, it’s being said that his annual salary will match or possibly even exceed the $17.5 million salary Tony Romo receives from CBS. It just pays to be a Cowboys quarterback, doesn’t it?

If that is indeed the case, It would only take Aikman a few years to make the same amount of money he did during his Hall of Fame career in Big D.

Troy Aikman earned $55.5 million with the Cowboys in 12 years — will earn that in about a quarter of the time with ESPN

Troy Aikman
Troy Aikman | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the Cowboys in the 1989 NFL Draft out of UCLA, Aikman played a dozen seasons in Dallas before retiring in 2001, the same year he joined Fox.

In those dozen seasons, the California native led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles and was named Super Bowl 27 MVP after completing 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in Dallas’ 52-17 thrashing of the Buffalo Bills.

Aikman was a six-time Pro Bowler, was named NFL Man of the Year in 1997, and finished his career with 32,942 passing yards and 165 touchdown passes against 141 interceptions. In 16 postseason games, he threw for 3,849 yards with 23 touchdowns against 17 picks. Aikman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Here’s a look at his year-by-year salary during his playing career.

YearSalarySigning BonusRestructure BonusTotal Earnings
1989$787,000$2,750,000N/A$3,537,000
1990$1,000,000N/AN/A$1,000,000
1991$1,250,000N/AN/A$1,250,000
1992$1,500,000N/AN/A$1,500,000
1993$2,500,000$8,250,000N/A$10,750,000
1994$1,750,000N/AN/A$1,750,000
1995$1,120,000N/A$2,380,000$3,500,000
1996$4,000,000N/AN/A$4,000,000
1997$4,500,000N/AN/A$4,500,000
1998$3,750,000N/A$1,750,000$5,500,000
1999$3,000,000$13,000,000N/A$16,000,000
2000$2,250,000N/AN/A$2,250,000
12 seasons$27,407,000$24,000,000$4,130,000$55,537,000

As you can see, Aikman earned just over $55.5 million as a player, which sadly doesn’t even seem like that much nowadays. In fact, in his most lucrative year — the 1999 campaign in which he made a total of $16 million — he wouldn’t have even been in the top half of NFL quarterbacks in 2021 in terms of total cash. And that $16 million obviously included the $13 million signing bonus that came with the six-year extension he signed and never finished.

Aikman was set to receive an extra $7 million bonus in 2001 but was released before it kicked in. He was making around $7.5 million per year with Fox.

As mentioned in the intro, it’s being reported that ESPN will shell out Romo-like money to bring Aikman in for Monday Night Football, and perhaps even more. So we’re looking somewhere in the neighborhood of $17.5 million. The New York Post reported Fox agreed to give him a four-year extension at $13.2 million per year, but it looks like the deal with ESPN is all but signed.

So it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that Aikman will end up making just about as much money in three years with ESPN as he did in a dozen with the Cowboys. A five-year deal seems likely for Aikman, one that would run through Super Bowl 61, which will air on ABC/ESPN. So if ESPN pays him $18 million per year, he’d make almost $35 million more in those five years than he did as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.

Given his concussion history, I think it’s safe to say Aikman got out at the right time and made the right choice going into the booth.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference; contract info courtesy of Spotrac

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