Stephen A. Smith wants Pat McAfee-type deal to stay at ESPN in latest contract twist

Stephen A. Smith wants Pat McAfee-type deal to stay at ESPN in latest contract twist

ESPN has made its pitch to keep Stephen A. Smith.

But the “First Take” personality has a different contract in mind.

Smith, the ubiquitous face and voice at the sports network, will see his current contract expire next year, and ESPN, according to Puck News, offered Smith $90 million over five years.

Stephen A. Smith is in the middle of contract negotiations with ESPN. John Salangsang/Invision/AP

And now, according to the outlet, Smith “covets” the deal Pat McAfee’s production company got — $25 million a year — to have his show televised on ESPN.

Puck also reported that Smith wants to structure his deal in the same way that McAfee, who has a production deal and not a talent one, has his with ESPN.

Smith, 56, joined ESPN in 2003 and has been a key part of a number of shows, but is most famous for his rants and heated debates on “First Take.”

He also has his own podcast “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” which is outside of the ESPN umbrella, and he discusses a whole range of issues, including politics.

That’s something he acknowledged on Monday on “The Rich Eisen Show,” discussing how he was OK with ESPN keeping sports at the forefront of the behemoth’s coverage despite the fact he enjoys talking about the political climate in the country and enjoys shows like “Last Week Tonight” and “The Daily Show.”

“I like talking politics, I like talking about some of the political issues that are percolating and are permeating throughout our society and beyond,” Smith said. “That stuff does not scare me… certainly, it’s a dangerous platform at times, I understand that. Particularly in the climate that we live in, but I also like to be that renegade.”

Pat McAfee Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen A. Smith attends the 66th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards at the Biltmore Los Angeles earlier this week. Getty Images

“And I’ve often said this, I don’t knock ESPN and Jimmy Pitaro for doing this one bit,” Smith continued. “When Jimmy Pitaro arrived around 2018, he wanted us to veer away from politics and he was absolutely right because it was hurting the network. I completely supported him then. I completely support him now.”

Smith also told Eisen that his current contract did not say anything that he could have his own podcast outside the network, so he had to ask ESPN for permission to do the show, and he acknowledged that the current higher-ups have always kept their word with him and are “incredible.”

Now, time will tell if he will stay with ESPN or not.