According to Bob Harig of ESPN, Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, has said Nike and Woods are close to closing out a deal that would "emphatically" keep Woods as Nike's highest-paid golfer in the world.
The negotiations were probably pretty easy for Steinberg. All he had to do was print out a list of Rory McIlroy's 2013 performance and contract (he reportedly makes around $20 million a year) and Woods' 2013 performance and contract and drop them off at Phil Knight's office with a big smiley face stamped on the front.
Woods has been a marketing dream once again this season, having won four of the eight PGA Tour tournaments that he has entered and finishing T4 at the Masters. McIlroy, on the other hand, has had a handful of top 10s but no wins.
Woods' deals with Nike have traditionally been shrouded in secrecy, and the current one (and pending renewal) is no different. All we know is that he's coming up on the end of a seven-year string that started in 2006 -- nobody knows how much it pays, but reports have pegged it anywhere between $20 million and $40 million annually.
I expect him to get that and more in this new deal. So does Steinberg:
"This process went as such where I never had to get out in the market to test the waters in a formal way. That's a good thing, because I think some of the most memorable moments throughout Tiger's career to date are linked with Nike."
I would imagine there wasn't a lot of talk at Nike about letting Woods "formally" test those waters -- now or ever.
Steinberg continued, saying he thinks the deal will be done any day now:
"We're down to the very, very short strokes right now ... I would expect we would come out with some sort of joint announcement when we get the paperwork signed. I hope this is viewed as a pretty bold statement."
I'd be surprised if anything took place before the U.S. Open, but I could see it happening the week after. Heck, Steinberg might want to hold off until the week after and see if he can squeeze a few more bucks out of Knight if Woods wins major No. 15.
Woods himself has been pretty quiet on the topic (no surprise), but he did pretty much say the deal is done:
"I'm excited about what the future holds. And very excited to be with Nike."
I can't imagine him with anyone else.