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Shannon Sharpe to join ESPN's 'First Take' on part-time basis after split with Skip Bayless, per report

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 29: Former NFL player Shannon Sharpe speaks onstage during day one with SiriusXM at Super Bowl LIV on January 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM )
Shannon Sharpe is headed back to ESPN. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM )

Shannon Sharpe is leaving Skip Bayless' current show for Skip Bayless' old show, at least on a part-time basis.

The former host of Fox Sports' "Skip and Shannon: Undisputed" will join the rotation opposite Stephen A. Smith on ESPN's "First Take" during the upcoming football season, according to the New York Post. Sharpe will reportedly make regular appearances Mondays and Thursdays.

Smith, however, disputed the report on social media Thursday night, saying that while ESPN was still pursuing Sharpe, no deal had been signed between the two parties:

“It’ll be great to have him. Here’s the issue, we don’t. Sorry, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. It's a bit premature. Shannon Sharpe has yet to sign on the dotted line to be a member of First Take. It has not happened yet. I'm still confident it will happen. I still believe it will happen. I think it needs to happen. And I have no doubt that I’m going to exhaust any means I have available to me to make it happen.”

Sharpe made his final appearance on "Undisputed" in June after making the decision to end his seven-year run at Fox. As the Post notes, returning to "First Take" would be something of a full-circle move for the Hall of Fame tight end, whose guest appearances opposite Bayless on "First Take" sold him as a permanent co-host for "Undisputed" when Bayless left for Fox.

Smith made no secret of his interest in landing Sharpe once rumors of the move started circulating, via Front Office Sports:

“I want Shannon Sharpe on First Take. And I aim to get him. We are definitely talking to Shannon Sharpe. The conversations are official. The reports have not been misnomers. Or misreports or anything like that,” he told his listeners.

“We are talking to him. I am hopeful, very hopeful, and very confident that ultimately we will be announcing sooner than later that he will be on ‘First Take.’”

Sharpe is also reportedly expected to find a partner for his "Club Shay Shay" podcast.

What of Skip Bayless and 'Undisputed'?

Funnily enough, it looks like Fox will take the same approach to replace Sharpe that ESPN took when the network lost Max Kellerman, Bayless' "First Take" replacement, in 2021.

Rather than find a new partner for Smith, ESPN has brought in a rotating panel of guests to debate him, effectively making it the "Stephen A. Smith Show." Given that "Undisputed" already existed as Bayless' show, with the professional opinion-haver holding an enormous amount of control over the show's decision-making, it's not a surprise that Bayless seems headed for the rotating panel solution as well.

Former NFL cornerback Richard Sherman, rapper Lil Wayne and former ESPN reporter/analyst Rachel Nichols have already been reported to be in line for regular appearances on "Undisputed." The Post also reported former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin to be among the other candidates for a role.