Report: The Athletic Prepping Offers for Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Stadium’s Shams Charania

The sports site is hoping to score top talent after being acquired by The New York Times

ESPN analyst Adam Schefter before a game between the Bills and Titans in Nashville. The New York Times is reportedly prepping an offer to bring him to The Athletic.
ESPN analyst Adam Schefter before a game between the Bills and Titans in Nashville.
Wesley Hitt/Getty

Recently purchased by The New York Times for $550 million, sports subscription site The Athletic is hoping to score some of the top talents in sports reporting this summer if/when a number of big names hit free agency.

If ESPN insiders Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski become free agents this summer, The Athletic is prepped to make offers to get them to change teams, sources told Front Office Sports. Shams Charania of Stadium could also be a target.

Schefter, ESPN’s top NFL reporter, and Wojnarowski, the leader of The Worldwide Leader’s NBA coverage, make an estimated $2 million to $3 million annually and the network plans to keep both league insiders if possible. “ESPN is going to fight hard to keep both. They’re well-thought-of inside Bristol,” a source told FOS. In addition to an exclusive negotiating window, ESPN may also have the right to match outside offers for the pricey pair. 

The New York Times is going to be responding to the broader, competitive dynamics and will be looking to fill out its bench of writers,” said Dan Burkhart, a former NBC digital executive and CEO of subscription engine Recurly. “They may choose to get some all-star writers just as a sports franchise would look to get all-star players, and then figure out how to balance out what is effectively their salary cap.”

The Athletic brought in about $65 million in revenue last year with operating losses of roughly $55 million. The acquisition of the site by The Times is expected to close by April 1.

“We started The Athletic to bring fans closer to the teams, players and leagues they love through deep, immersive journalism and storytelling,” Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, who started The Athletic in 2016, said in a statement following the announcement of the acquisition last week. “Today marks a thrilling milestone for that dream, one realized because of the hard work of every single one of our employees. We are proud to have The Athletic become part of the Times Company’s family of subscription products.”

Should The Athletic end up poaching Schefter and/or Wojnarowski from ESPN, it will only be karmic justice as The Worldwide Leader just snatched up former Yahoo Sports college football and NFL writer Pete Thamel. A former senior writer at Sports Illustrated who previously spent nine years as the national college sports reporter for The New York Times, Thamel started working at Yahoo in 2017.

“Pete has long established himself as one of the sport’s top news breakers and storytellers. He’ll bring that sensibility and his unique voice and perspective to every platform at ESPN,” said VP and Executive Editor Lauren Reynolds. We’re thrilled to welcome Pete to ESPN and excited for his contributions as he joins our team of award-winning college sports reporters who create smart, distinctive coverage.”

Thamel’s multi-platform role at ESPN will include writing, television and radio. He officially starts January 15.

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