Carson Palmer Gives Hope for Tony Romo's Future ✭
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Carson Palmer Gives Hope for Tony Romo’s Future

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Carson Palmer Gives Hope for Tony Romo’s Future

At 36-years-old and in his 13th season, Carson Palmer has just had the best regular season of his career for the 13-3 Arizona Cardinals. One state over, another great quarterback lost nearly his entire season to injury. Tony Romo‘s twice-broken collarbone was the key issue this year, but before that he’s had several season of recurring back problems. Dallas Cowboys fans should look west for hope as Palmer’s re-emergence as a top performer is a great sign for Romo’s future.

Last year Palmer was anything but healthy.  A nerve injury in his shoulder kept him out from Weeks 2-5 and then a torn ACL ended his season in Week 10. He was still solid when available, having a 95.6 passer rating in the seven games he played. Still, there was plenty of concern about how this aged veteran could hold up going into 2015.

Palmer hasn’t just stayed on the field this year but has been spectacular. His 104.6 passer rating is third in the NFL and higher than the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. He didn’t many any snaps due to injury, only being spelled by Drew Stanton when the Cardinals had built comfortable leads.

Most impressive is that Palmer’s success has come with a lot of suspect offensive talent around him. Larry Fitzgerald is deep into his twilight. Chris Johnson was an aged running back desperate for work. Michael Floyd is a solid but unspectacular receiver. They have nobody of consequence at tight end. Palmer’s leadership has helped this group become greater than the sum of its parts, ranking first in the NFL in yardage and second in scoring.

So you Dallas fans reading this are probably starting to think, “that’s lovely, but what does it do for us?” Well, consider that Palmer is just five months older than Romo. The fact that a guy at age 35-36 can have this kind of uptick in his level of play is remarkable. Even better, Palmer’s actual mileage is far higher than Romo’s.  Palmer has been starting since his rookie season in 2004. Romo didn’t start playing until midway through the 2006 season. Palmer’s resurgence is happening with a lot more tread on the tires than Romo will have next year.

Even more specifically, Palmer has bounced back from missing lots of time and repeated injuries to the same body part with his knee. Sound like someone we know? Romo broke this same collarbone in 2010 as in 2015, plus has the chronic back issues. But now that he has a full offseason to heal and the best modern medicine has to offer, he has every opportunity to come back just as strong as Palmer has been.

Sometimes we have to remember what decade we’re in when assessing football players’ health. The old timetables for career longevity and the toll of injuries aren’t what they were in the 1990s. Sports medicine is better than its ever been and players in all sports are seeing more success coming back from even catastrophic injuries. We can only hope that Romo is part of that trend.

Now, to be clear, none of this is to say that Dallas shouldn’t be thinking about the future at quarterback. Romo’s chance at re-injury, or even something new, are higher than normal given his age and wear. Even without health problems, I could see Romo being ready to hang it up and get back to his golfing within the next few seasons. Dallas would be wise to have a legitimate prospect, and not another of their undrafted flyers, learning and preparing behind him as soon as this year.

Whatever the future may hold for the position, we know that Romo will be the guy in 2016. He’ll be there with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, who are superior to what Palmer’s working with in Arizona. He’ll have an offensive line which, as good as the Cardinals’ line has been, is stronger. As long as he enjoys a full recovery from the collarbone injury, which he has more than enough time for in the offseason, Tony Romo has every opportunity to be the league’s top-rated passer again next year as he was in 2014.

Thankfully, as Carson Palmer has shown us, it’s not an unrealistic goal.

Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I’ll be sure to respond!

  • Zac Fields

    Astute comparison, Jess!

    I understand Romo is fragile and the Cowboys desperately need to start looking for his heir apparent, but I also believe Romo very well could have another few stellar seasons.

    Get a young rookie quarterback in here to develop… someone who can fill in the gaps if/when Romo gets injured and keep the team afloat. Put REAL effort into building that quarterback into the contingency plan, complete with an altered offensive system that utilizes that quarterbacks strengths to the extent they are different from Romo's.

    Do that, and I believe Romo very well could be around for the duration of his contract, playing at a high level and the Cowboys can be a contender every year regardless of whether Romo misses 8 games, 5 games, 2 games, or zero games.

    • Jess Haynie

      Thank you, sir. I have a lot of faith in Romo's return to greatness. I'm not sure about the "duration of his contract" as that would mean he plays through 2019, which seems a little much. The cap issues alone will probably force his release in 2018 ($13M saved) or at least before that final year ($20 million saved). I also have a feeling that he and Witten will retire together within the next 2-3 years.

  • Zac Fields

    Well, I think that will all depend on whether or not we draft somebody this year and whether or not that guy shows some legit promise between now and the 2017 season.

    You've certainly got it pegged correctly strictly from a financial perspective, but I think they'll pay Romo $25 million no problem if he's still playing at a high level and is the best QB on the team. I think that's the other reason you have to get yourself an heir apparent this offseason. You definitely want options when Romo's contract inflates up above $24-25 million per season.

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