The Oakland Raiders are now the Las Vegas Raiders, but somehow Dallas Cowboys – for who knows how long – quarterback Tony Romo is still the biggest storyline in the NFL these days. Are the Cowboys going to trade him? Release him? At this point even guessing is frustrating, but the popular opinion these days is that Tony Romo will retire. The good news is that if he does, the Dallas Cowboys don’t plan on recouping the $5M that they fully have the right to from him.
On Monday evening Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the Dallas Cowboys will not be seeking out the final $5M from Tony Romo’s initial $25M signing bonus that he signed in 2013 should the quarterback retire prior to the 2017 season. This isn’t exactly salary cap wizardry, but it is a little bit of a complex subject so allow me to break it down for you.
Why Would Tony Romo Owe The Cowboys $5M In 2017?
When Tony Romo signed his six-year $108M deal with the Dallas Cowboys in March of 2013, ah memories, it included a $25M signing bonus. Typically signing bonuses are spread out over the life of a given NFL contract, up to a maximum of five years. This means that the $25M signing bonus, while fully guaranteed and given to Tony Romo previously, counts against the salary cap in $5M increments from 2013-2017.
This proration obviously is under the assumption that the player, in this case Tony Romo, will be fulfilling his contract in those specific years. If Tony Romo were to ultimately choose to retire before 2017 begins, he would not be fulfilling his contract. Since 2017 contains the final fifth of the $25M signing bonus, that means that the $5M the Cowboys devoted to him for 2017 would be subject to being recouped.
The Cowboys Could Be Trying To Incentivize Retirement For Tony Romo
Let’s be totally and completely clear here – the Cowboys would absolutely get their $5M back from Tony Romo. This isn’t anything that’s subject to a jury and judicial razzle-dazzle, there’s a very strong likelihood that the Cowboys would pick up $5M back from their former starting quarterback. While you could argue that it’d be more than salt in the wound to say, “Hey Tony, we know you’re retiring and everything but give us five million dollars,” in the NFL everything is a business.
The Cowboys’ declaration that they won’t go after this $5M – especially at a time when Romo seems to be feeling a bit contentious – is perhaps a show of good faith that they want to set Tony Romo up nicely if he does decide to hang them up. Many will scoff at this and say “Five million dollars is nothing to Tony Romo or the Dallas Cowboys,” but five million dollars is five million dollars. In a league where everything – yes, everything – centers around money, this is a big ‘ol deal.