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Once the highest-paid NFL player as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Troy Aikman is now the highest-paid NFL broadcaster as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew. But Aikman won’t be in that No. 1 slot for long as Tom Brady will take over whenever he decides to slide into Aikman’s old spot with Fox Sports.

As for exactly how lucrative Aikman’s deal with ESPN is, the three-time Super Bowl champ will pocket $92.5 million over the next five years. At $18.5 million annually, his deal eclipses that of Tony Romo, who signed a 10-year/$180 million contract with CBS in 2020. It just pays to be a former Cowboys quarterback, doesn’t it?

Aikman will earn close to $40 million more in five years at ESPN than he did in a dozen years in Big D.

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

Troy Aikman wears a white polo shirt on an NFL field
Troy Aikman | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
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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. He 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 2022 in terms of total cash.

And that $16 million 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.

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.

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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