Greg Olsen auditioning for ‘MNF’ role; source explains what that means for Panthers

Greg Olsen auditioning for ‘MNF’ role; source explains what that means for Panthers
(Jeff Siner | The Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joseph Person/The Charlotte Observer) - Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is auditioning Friday for the analyst role for ESPN's "Monday Night Football," according to an industry source.

Olsen is the first known candidate to go to ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Conn., to interview for the high-profile position that became available when Jon Gruden returned to coaching with the Oakland Raiders.

The New York Post's Andrew Marchand was the first to report Olsen's audition. Marchand also mentioned Olsen as a possibility for the color analyst role for FOX's Thursday night broadcast crew, if Peyton Manning turns down the job.

Olsen, 33, has one year remaining on a contract that will pay him $6.5 million for 2018.

A source close to Olsen expects the three-time Pro Bowler to be playing for the Panthers "this season and beyond."

Olsen informed Panthers officials in recent months he planned to audition for ESPN and FOX during the offseason for experience for "down the road," according to a team source.

Olsen has received strong reviews for his guest stints in broadcasting in recent years. He served as a Fox analyst for a Vikings-Rams game last November during the Panthers' bye week, and was part of ESPN's pre-game show before Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis.

Olsen is the only active player who has been connected to the "MNF" analyst role.

ESPN's Matt Hasselbeck and Louis Riddick also are expected to audition, and former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas could draw interest after retiring this week.

With his good looks, charisma and intelligence, Olsen should have a seamless transition into broadcasting whenever he retires.

But the "MNF" role is one of the highest-profile jobs in broadcasting and doesn't come open very often. Gruden spent nine years in the ESPN booth before accepting the Raiders' reported 10-year, $100 million offer.

Gruden made $6.5 million per year as ESPN's highest-paid, on-air personality, according to reports.

ESPN also is replacing "MNF" play-by-play voice Sean McDonough with college football play-by-play man Joe Tessitore, Marchand reported recently.

Olsen became the first tight end in NFL history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2014-2016. He missed seven games in 2017 after breaking his foot, and was a finalist for the NFL's Man of the Year award the past two seasons.