What Josh Elliott’s NBC Sports Hire Could Really Mean for ‘Today’ Show

Josh Elliott Matt Lauer

Insiders tell TheWrap that the former “GMA” anchor could head to “Today” following the expiration of a non-compete restriction

Josh Elliott’s departure from ABC’s “Good Morning America” for NBC Sports could eventually lead the anchor to NBC’s morning show “Today,” a rival network insider told TheWrap.  The individual said Elliott may even ultimately take over the co-host seat when Matt Lauer’s current NBC deal expires.

But due to the existence of a six month non-compete clause on Elliott’s ABC News contract, viewers wouldn’t see him appear on the NBC program until at least late fall. Under this scenario, Elliott’s NBC Sports deal is essentially paving the way back to the mornings around a time when “Today” could use him.

Also read: The Most and Least Liked Morning TV Hosts — From Robin Roberts to Kathie Lee Gifford

Lauer’s NBC News contract is not up until the end of 2015, though such contracts often include a clause with a final-year window to pursue other ventures within the division. That potential window in Lauer’s deal would open at the end of 2014 — likely just after the expiration of Elliott’s non-compete clause.

See video: Sam Champion on Josh Elliott’s ABC Departure: ‘I Know That Fans of ‘GMA’ Are Not Loving It’

As TheWrap reported Sunday, after months of intense contract negotiations broke down, Elliott informed ABC News he would be leaving for the competitor network’s sports division. In his new role, Elliott will cover the NFL, Olympics and “other high profile sporting events” in a lucrative new deal worth a reported $4 million a year. The news almost immediately sparked speculation over whether Elliott’s final NBC destination would be “Today” show.

Elliot’s official start date has yet to be determined, but it will be within the next several weeks, NBC Sports told TheWrap. That math brings Elliott’s NBC freedom to Fall 2014, which could be convenient if the Lauer speculation proves to be true.

See video: Josh Elliott Sent Warm Farewell Messages From ‘GMA’s’ George Stephanopoulos, Lara Spencer

Another NBC insider denied the possibility, telling TheWrap that “NBC and Today show execs have made it clear they want Matt as anchor.”

Furthermore, that same individual told TheWrap that “Josh Elliott is fully a Sports hire — this has nothing to do with NBC News. There are no plans for Josh to appear on NBC News.”

Also read: Josh Elliott Exiting ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ for NBC Sports

An individual at a rival network said NBCUniversal is just “using its checkbook” to put former ABC News personalities on NBC properties.

Other recent hires include Cynthia McFadden and Elliott’s former “GMA” colleague Sam Champion, who went to The Weather Channel, which is partially owned by NBCUniversal.