#9 Tony Romo
Antonio Ramiro “Tony” Romo was born on April 21, 1980 in San Diego, California. He played collegiately at Eastern Illinois. Tony Romo is currently the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2003.
Tony Romo attended Burlington High School in Burlington, Wisconsin. While attending Burlington High School, Romo played golf, tennis, basketball, and football.
He was one of the best golfers and basketball players in the entire state of Wisconsin, but it was on the football field where he made a name for himself.
Tony Romo started as the quarterback for the Burlington Demons beginning his junior season in 1996. The Demons didn’t enjoy much success and in fact only finished 3-6 in 1997, Romo’s senior season.
Despite not winning many games, Romo earned several honors, including the All-Racine County and Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State first team honors.
Tony Romo continued his football career at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois. The Eastern Illinois Panthers are a NCAA division 1-AA football program.
Romo didn’t start for the Panthers until his sophomore season in 2000. He finished the year ranked second in Division I-AA in passing efficiency, completing 164 of 278 passes for 2,583 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was named All-America honorable mention, All-OVC, and OVC Player of the Year following his sophomore campaign.
As a junior in 2001, Romo led Division I-AA in passing efficiency, completing 138 of 207 passes for 2,068 yards and 21 touchdowns. He earned All-America and All-Ohio Valley Conference honors and was named the OVC Player of the Year for the second season in a row.
In 2002, as a senior, Tony Romo set school and conference records with 258 completions on 407 attempts. His 3,615 passing yards were the second-most in a season in conference history and third-most in school history. He also threw 34 touchdowns in his final year at Eastern Illinois.
Romo’s senior year performance made him the recipient of the 2002 Walter Payton Award, which is given to the nation’s top player in Division I-AA. He was the first player from the Ohio Valley Conference to ever win this prestigious award.
Romo finished his career at Eastern Illinois as the school and conference all-time leader with 85 touchdown passes. He was second in school history and third in conference history with 8,212 passing yards. He was also second in school history with 584 completions and 941 attempts.
On October 17, 2009, during homecoming weekend, Eastern Illinois University retired Tony Romo’s #17 jersey and inducted him into the EIU’s Hall of Fame. Romo is the first Eastern Illinois player to have his number retired.
2003 NFL Draft
Tony Romo attended the 2003 NFL Scouting Combine, but participated mostly as an extra arm to throw to the wide receivers. Although some of the scouts were intrigued by him, he went undrafted in the 2003 NFL Draft.
Sean Payton, a fellow Eastern Illinois alum, assured Romo throughout the draft of the Cowboys’ interest in him, and signed him shortly after the draft ended as an undrafted free agent. It is rumored that Romo turned down more guaranteed money from Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos.
Tony Romo officially signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent on May 1, 2003.
He spent the entire season as the third string quarterback and was one of four rookie free agents to make the full-time roster following training camp. The only action he saw was in preseason where he completed 9 of 17 passes for 134 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
In 2004, Romo was in a training camp battle with Drew Henson for the backup quarterback position. He completed 24 of 39 passes in preseason for 250 yards. He also threw for one touchdown and two interceptions. Early in the 2004 season, Romo took over the holder duties for PATs and field goals. It was really the only game action that he saw his second year in the NFL.
In 2005, Tony Romo beat out Drew Henson for the backup quarterback spot. He completed 23 of 37 passes for 273 yards and one touchdown in the preseason. He played all 16 games as the holder for PATs and field goals.
Tony Romo started the 2006 season as the backup to Drew Bledsoe. He finally saw his first regular-season action against the Houston Texanson October 15. His first pass in the NFL was a 33 yard completion to wide receiver Sam Hurd. His only other pass against the Texans was a 2-yard touchdown pass — his first in the NFL — to WR Terrell Owens.
One week after his first NFL action, he took over for Drew Bledsoe in the second half against the New York Giants. In two quarters against the Giants, Tony Romo completed 14 of 25 passes for 227 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. A few days later, head coach Bill Parcells announced that Tony Romo would be the starting QB for the Dallas Cowboys the remainder of the season.
Romo started 10 games in 2006. He completed 220 of 337 passes for 2,903 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also threw 13 interceptions. He played in the 2007 Pro Bowl as an alternate for an injured Drew Brees.
Romo’s 2007 season started off with a bang. Against the New York Giants, he threw for 345 passing yards and four touchdowns. He also added one on the ground, which was his first rushing touchdown in the NFL. While his success continued throughout the season, his most memorable game of the year was probably against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
He threw five interceptions, two of which were returned for a touchdown, and lost a fumble. He became the second person in the history of Monday Night Football to throw five interceptions in a winning effort.
The Dallas Cowboys made it to the divisional round of the playoffs but were eliminated by the New York Giants, who won the game 17-21. Tony Romo was unable to lead the team to a come- from-behind victory. He threw an interception in the end zone to Giants cornerback RW McQuarters, thus sealing the game for the Giants.
He finished the 2007 season throwing for 4,211 passing yards (third in the NFL) and 36 touchdowns (second only to Tom Brady). He also finished fifth in the NFL with a 97.4 passer rating behind only Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, David Garrard, and Peyton Manning. Tony Romo also was voted into Pro Bowl for the second time in his career.
On October 29, 2007, Romo and the Dallas Cowboys agreed to a six-year, $67.5 million contract extension.
In 2008, his second full season as a starter for the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo finished eighth in the NFL in passer rating (91.4), sixth in touchdowns (26), 12th in yards (3,448), 15th in completions (276), and 16th in completion percentage (61.3) and attempts (450). He only started 13 games after breaking his finger on his throwing hand in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Romo took every snap at quarterback for the first time in his NFL career in 2009, his third full season with the Dallas Cowboys. He finished the season eighth in the NFL in passer rating (97.6), third in yards (4483), fifth in attempts (550), seventh in completions (347), 10th in touchdown passes (26), and 12th in completion percentage (63.1). He was also named to the Pro Bowl for a third time.
In the Wild Card game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he threw for 244 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 104.9, leading the Cowboys to victory.
The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately lost to the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Playoff round. It was a tough outing for the entire team, but Romo was only able to complete 22 of 35 passes for 198 yards and one interception. He was under duress the entire game and was sacked a postseason career-high six times.
In 2010, Tony Romo fractured his left collarbone against the New York Giants on October 25 and was eventually placed on injured reserve on December 22. Prior to his injury he threw for 1,605 yards, completing 148 of 213 of his passes. He had 11 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a passer rating of 94.9 (sixth in the NFL) at the time.
In 2011, Romo threw for 4,184 yards, which was his third 4,000 yard passing season. He completed 346 of 522 passes and 31 touchdowns. His 66.28 completion percentage was the best of his career and second in franchise history. He also had a quarterback rating of 102.5, which was fourth in the NFL behind the National League MVP Aaron Rodgers, Offensive Player of the Year Drew Brees, and AFC Champion Tom Brady. For the season, Romo contributed 82% of the team’s total touchdowns in 2011, which was most in the NFL.
Romo completed 425 of 648 passes for 4,903 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2012. He also tied his career-high in interceptions with 19. The Tony Romo-led Dallas Cowboys finished 8-8 for the second season in a row and missed the playoffs once again.
The Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo agreed upon a six-year extension worth $108 million, with $55 million guaranteed and a $25 million signing bonus in 2013.
During the off-season, Romo underwent back surgery to remove a cyst, which caused him to miss all of mini-camp and organized team activities. That was the first of Romo’s back problems for the season. In Week 15, against the Washington Redskins, he left the game with an injury later diagnosed as a herniated disc. He would once again undergo back surgery on December 27, 2013 and was placed on injured reserve.
For the season, Romo threw for 3,828 yards and completed 342 of 535 passes. He had 31 touchdown passes to just 10 interceptions and finished the season with a 96.7 passer rating.
Tony Romo had arguably the best season of his entire NFL career in 2014. He completed 304 of 435 passes for 3,705 yards. He also threw 34 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. Romo had the best completion percentage of his career (69.9) and his best passer rating (113.2).
The Romo-led Dallas Cowboys finished the year 12-4 and went undefeated in the regular season on the road. He was once again elected to the Pro Bowl.
In the wild-card round of the playoffs, Romo led the Cowboys to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately, they ended up getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers over a controversial call more commonly known as “The Dez Catch.”
The 2015 season was not kind to Tony Romo or the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 2, against the Philadelphia Eagles, Romo broke his left collarbone in the third quarter after Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks sacked and fell on Romo. He would miss the next eight games while he recovered, but returned to the starting lineup in Week 11.
During that time span, the Dallas Cowboys failed to win a game with Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel handling the quarterback duties. Romo’s snapped a seven-game losing streak by the Cowboys with a win against the Miami Dolphins, 24-14.
Romo would again be injured in the next game against the Carolina Panthers, when Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis sacked Romo, which resulted in the second break of his left collarbone that year. He remained on the active roster until December 21 when the Cowboys finally placed him on injured reserve.
Tony Romo has failed to take a single snap in the regular season in 2016 because of a compressed fracture to the L1 vertebrae in his back suffered during the third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. The recovery time from such an injury is usually 6-10 weeks.
On March 31, 2013, the Dallas Cowboys signed quarterback Tony Romo to a six-year $108 million contract extension and he was given a signing bonus of $25 million. On April 1, 2015 Romo restructured his contract and converted $16 million of his salary to a signing bonus. This created $12.8 million in cap space for the Cowboys.
- In 2016 his base salary is $8,500,000 and his cap hit is $20,835,000
- In 2017 his base salary is $14 million in his cap hit is $24,700,000
- In 2018 his base salary is $19,500,000 and his cap hit is $25,200,000
- In 2019 his base salary is $20,500,000 and his cap hit is $23,700,000
The total value of Romo’s contract is $108 million, $40 million of that is fully guaranteed. He makes an average of $18 million per season and is the 19th highest of 93 NFL quarterback contracts.
Cowboys 2018 Breakout Candidates: TE Geoff Swaim
For the 2018 Dallas Cowboys, the retirement of Tight End Jason Witten was one of the biggest developments of the offseason. It leaves a gaping hole in their offense, and no major free agent or high draft pick was added as a clear replacement. As such, fourth-year veteran Geoff Swaim may be in line for a breakout season.
A seventh-round pick in 2015, Swaim has stuck in Dallas with strong run-blocking and special teams play. His offensive production has been limited to just nine catches and 94 yards, thanks largely to the stranglehold that Witten kept on the TE position. Geoff has only been targeted 11 times in the passing game over three seasons.
But with Witten leaving, as well as veteran backup James Hanna, Swaim is now the elder statesman of the TE group. Even his limited playing time in the NFL thus far puts him way ahead of Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, or rookie Dalton Schultz.
Based on reports from the offseason practices and camps, Geoff is getting the first crack at becoming the new starter. It makes sense given his experience edge, but also his proficiency as a run blocker.
The Cowboys will likely lean on Ezekiel Elliott heavily this year, particularly early in the season. The passing game will need time to find itself with Witten and Dez Bryant gone. They'll want to ease Dak Prescott into heavier workloads as he and his new receiving options get acclimated.
Geoff Swaim will be one of those new options. And even though his reputation is for blocking, don't take that to mean he's not athletic.
We've seen Swaim on the move as a blocker and also in the passing game, and he's certainly got some wheels. That could make him a deceptive weapon on play-action and other passing plays out of running formations.
In some ways, losing Witten and Bryant makes the Cowboys' offense less predictable than in the past. Defenses will be less sure who to focus on, and that also creates opportunities for the new receivers.
Obviously, Swaim's breakout potential is dependent on Prescott looking his way. But unless Dak has undergone a major change in his playing style, a TE working in the short and middle parts of the field is someone he'll rely on plenty.
With training camp and preseason still to come, calling Geoff the starter right now is just an assumption. There is still time for one of the other prospects to impress and climb the ladder.
But right now, there's clearly no better candidate to claim the spot than Swaim. He has the most critical skill as a blocker, and his potential in the passing game is underrated. It's his job to lose.
The guy with only nine career catches could get that in a single game this year. Therefore, Geoff Swaim is clearly one of the major breakout candidates for the 2018 Cowboys.
Cowboys 2018 Breakout Candidates: LB Jaylon Smith
No single player on the Dallas Cowboys roster right now may be more primed for a breakout season than Linebacker Jaylon Smith. His ascension as a player isn't just a big gain for the Cowboys defense, but it may be vital to their success in 2018.
Smith joined the Cowboys as a high second-round pick (34th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft. Potentially a top-five elite talent in that class, Jaylon's stock fell after a severe knee injury in his final college game. It was unknown if he could ever play football again, but Dallas took the risk based on Smith's incredible upside.
After Jaylon sat out his rookie year to fully rehab. In 2017, he was able to play all 16 games and started in six. That alone was a huge win for Smith and the Cowboys.
Jaylon's performance last year wasn't great, but understandably so after all the missed time. He also had to regain confidence in his knee, which is critical for a linebacker with all of the directional changes during plays.
Still, Smith got better as the season went. And even amidst the struggles, there were flashes of his instincts and potential.
This offseason, reports of Jaylon's improving health are fueling increased optimism. He is now playing without a knee brace and that means more confidence. If Smith fully trusts his body now, it will make him far more dangerous on the field.
With Anthony Hitchens leaving in free agency, Dallas needs Jaylon to be a bigger factor this year. If he doesn't take the next step, it could leave the Cowboys vulnerable at linebacker in 2018.
True, Dallas drafted Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of last April's draft. But it's always dangerous to ask a rookie to do heavy lifting, and especially one who is seen as a raw talent like Vander Esch.
Ideally, anything Dallas gets from Leighton this year will be gravy. Their goal is to rely on veteran Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, with Damien Wilson also available as a solid fallback option.
But when you mention Sean Lee, you have to mention health concerns. After two encouragingly healthy seasons in 2015 and 2016, Lee was back to having some issues last year and missed five games.
That is all the more reason why Dallas needs Jaylon to be ready for more this year. If Lee misses time again, Smith is the best suited to take over the roles that Sean leaves behind.
Thankfully, all signs point to big things for Jaylon Smith in 2018. His body appears healed and there's no questioning his work ethic and desire. If the mental aspect of football has also developed, he could be everything the Cowboys hoped when they drafted them.
Are the Dallas Cowboys Distancing Themselves from HC Jason Garrett?
Training camp is always an exciting time for the Dallas Cowboys, with 2018's proceedings being no exception. A major difference this year is the hype carrying over to the Cowboys coaching staff, featuring newcomers at the positional level everywhere but running back, safety, and defensive tackle.
Experienced coaches like Kris Richard, Paul Alexander, and Sanjay Lal will have a big impact on the Cowboys development as a 9-7 team that's only gotten younger this offseason. Still likely in need of a playoff appearance to save the job of Head Coach Jason Garrett and his coordinators, one can't help but question Garrett's effectiveness with this year's team.
The Cowboys appearance on NFL Films' latest All or Nothing series offered Cowboys Nation a rare look inside this team's day-to-day activities, including Garrett's role as a motivator and leader to many coaches no longer with the team.
Garrett's walk through a proverbial hall of mirrors at The Star reflects much deeper though. Ultimately, it's the players that decide games on Sundays, and the Cowboys didn't have enough of their blue chip ones on the field together for 2017. Whether or not this changes in 2018, the Cowboys can do little to shake the truth that conditions must be perfect for Garrett to captain this team to success.
If having a future Hall of Fame tight end like Jason Witten around wasn't enough for Garrett, going all in on this team in their first year without not only Witten but Dez Bryant feels foolish.
This underdog status and youthful nature may very well bring the Cowboys back to their 2016 form. I've already mentioned mirrors however, and how about the smoke? Garrett's best year out of eight full seasons, that 13-3 campaign was surely not all 'smoke and mirrors', but it is now far enough in the past to expect improvement from the Cowboys head coach.
Garrett must overcome massive changes on the offense he once coordinated to see third-year Quarterback Dak Prescott put this team back in the playoff picture, or the Cowboys will only continue to change face even more dramatically for 2019.
Long gone are the innocent days of Garrett playing catch under the California sun with a rookie Prescott, who had no idea the impact he'd make on the entirety of this franchise so quickly. Now, the Cowboys may have to quickly separate this duo if looking to preserve a window of contention under Dak's rookie contract.
It truly will be fascinating to see the new points of emphasis this revamped Cowboys coaching staff brings to the team not only on the field in Oxnard but through their team meetings and into the regular season. As Garrett allows the likes of Richard and Lal to oversee important changes at CB/S and WR respectively, his overarching message of character, competition, and respect will still echo throughout the team.
Whether or not the slew of new players Garrett has to coach can inspire him to implement this message effectively, or if his days are numbered given the slack the Cowboys have already provided, is the most important story line for the Cowboys in 2018.
By most team's standards, a 9-7 season given the circumstances around the Cowboys a year ago is acceptable -- which it ultimately was for Dallas as they kept Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli.
This team's shortcomings through a disappointing season was enough for the Cowboys to begin reevaluating the coaches below this trio though, leaving only their ninth year head coach to fall victim to the level of turnover NFL teams are experiencing on the fly right now.
The Cowboys roster has received this message loud and clear. Will Garrett's carry the same impetus, and will it truly matter for the 2018 season?
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