The calendar may read March, but the CBS commercials for The Masters indicate to sports fans everywhere that April is just around the corner. CBS is relevant not just for sports fans but members of Cowboys Nation, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported last Friday that they would like Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo to join their broadcast team.
The Tony Romo saga is one that has worn on for quite some time. Word on the street is that with the annual NFL Owners meetings happening in Phoenix things could pick up steam, but the precedent for this situation would indicate we all need to buckle in for a much longer ride.
“Precedent? There's NEVER Been A Situation Like This One With Tony Romo Before In NFL History!”
As sports fans we are all occasionally guilty of being prisoners of the moment. It's the best ever, the most unique, or the only time this or that has ever happened as far as the current sports landscape is concerned. There's a common misconception that this is the case with how the Dallas Cowboys appear to be handling the Tony Romo situation within their franchise.
How are they handling it exactly? Well Tony Romo is still a member of the Dallas Cowboys, despite supposedly being told that he'd be released on March 9th, 2017. Why is he still on the team, you ask? Tony Romo counts $19.6M against the Cowboys salary cap whether released (a June 1st designation could move half of that amount to 2018), traded, or retired. If the financial hit to the team is the same, why release him for free? That's how the Cowboys are handling it.
If you're honest with yourself you'll admit that you'd probably rather see Tony Romo retired than playing for someone else. This would ensure that the only uniform he ever slipped over his shoulders was that of the Dallas Cowboys – his last in a starting effort was the color rush, talk about curses… – and prohibit someone else from getting better by acquiring his services. Why does it matter if someone else gets better especially to the point that Tony Romo can win a Super Bowl? Newsflash here, but if Tony Romo wins the Super Bowl this season that means that the Dallas Cowboys didn't.
“This Sounds Unique, So There Obviously Isn't Any Precedent For This Ever… Like Ever Ever”
This is where the misconception comes in. Due to how beloved – although that sure wasn't the case even just two years ago – Tony Romo is by Cowboys Nation, the thought is that if the Cowboys “forced” him into retirement it would be an act of cruelty unbeknownst to NFL front offices. Wrong, my friend.
Carson Palmer, now Arizona Cardinal and former Oakland Raider, once upon a time was the number one overall pick (2003, coincidentally the same year Tony Romo went undrafted) by the Cincinnati Bengals. Palmer was the real deal for almost a decade in Cincinnati, but after the 2010 season began to grow tired with the team's inconsistencies… it probably didn't help that Bengals fans booed him when he crossed 20,000 career yards.
Now you're most likely a Cowboys fan so you don't know the horror of rooting for the Bengals and their tumultuous history, but Carson Palmer is one of the greatest Bengals that ever lived.. so essentially the same type of player in franchise lore that Tony Romo is. Despite this, the Bengals refused to trade him. Carson refused to play for the Bengals anymore and therefore threatened retirement… a route he ultimately chose as Cincinnati and the rest of the NFL prepared for the 2011 season.
Bengals Vs. Palmer: A Retirement Born Of A Bluff
Carson Palmer, then 31, retired from the National Football League. Here we have a classic case of a franchise quarterback “forced” into retirement by the team he did so much for. The Bengals didn't exactly have a Dak Prescott in the waiting when this whole dealio went down, but they did draft TCU's Andy Dalton that year so they were properly prepared.
No one here is saying that the Cincinnati Bengals are the Dallas Cowboys or that Carson Palmer did as much for them as Tony Romo did for his squad, but the point is that Carson Palmer lost his end of the bluff. He threatened retirement and the Bengals called him on it, so he had no choice. Should Tony Romo, who's about to turn 37, retire the Cowboys will be on the hook for $19.6M against their salary cap… which is once again the exact same amount that they'd have allotted against them if they released or traded him.
Tony Romo is in the exact same situation with the Dallas Cowboys that Carson Palmer once found himself in with the Cincinnati Bengals. The question that remains to be answered for Romo is whether or not someone will covet him enough, even though he's six years older than Carson was when he was traded for, to come get him. We've seen this song and dance before, and if this is anything like it then we're going to be waiting for a long time.
The Cincinnati Bengals Made Their Own Bluff, And The Oakland Raiders Bit Hard
If Tony Romo decides to go into broadcasting and chooses FOX over CBS, maybe he'll be hanging out around the World Series this October… and maybe that's when an NFL team will finally get desperate enough to pony up and trade for him.
The Palmer/Bengals standoff did indeed last all the way until October of 2011, and Cincinnati was extremely smart to wait for him. In return for Carson Palmer the Bengals received:
- Oakland's 2012 1st Round Selection, which became CB Dre Kirkpatrick.
- Oakland's 2013 2nd Round Selection (would've been another 1st if Oakland had made the AFC Championship Game in Palmer's first two years there), which became RB Gio Bernard.
Cincinnati turned Carson Palmer into two cornerstone players that their franchise uses to this day, even if it's in a losing/pathetic effort. I remind you again that Tony Romo is six years older than Carson Palmer was when this went down, but this is why the Cowboys won't “just release” Tony Romo as many fans have petitioned for.
The only incentives that the Cowboys can receive for Tony Romo are trade compensation or the peace that he won't pose a threat to them if he's retired, plus the potential of someone getting desperate further down the road like the Raiders did with Palmer. If Romo's situation ends up mirroring Palmer's even more then we all need to clear our calendars until October and just schedule a whole bunch of waiting.