#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.
Difference-Making Prospects Linked to Cowboys in Latest Mock Drafts
The next time we take a look at these mock drafts to see who various members of the media have landing with the Cowboys, it will be on the week of the NFL Scouting Combine. This 2018 Draft process is charging towards Dallas, and with it we have some new prospects to add to the radar this week.
After introducing you to two secondary players last week, along with a consensus top-10 player in Georgia's Roquan Smith, here is the latest crop of college talent to be mocked to America's Team.
CBS Sports: Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama
This mock draft comes to us from Chris Trapasso, with the most complete receiver in the draft falling to the Cowboys.
"The Cowboys are thrilled with Ridley still being available. While he's not the biggest wideout and has a skinny frame, he's a dynamic route runner and has the deep speed Dallas has to inject into its offense."
Calvin Ridley may be the one WR in this draft too good for me to pass up on in the first round. As I've studied deeper into this class, the amount of talent available in the later rounds looks much more attractive for a Cowboys team that remains set on at least two starting receivers.
Should this WR depth deter the first 18 teams in the draft order from taking Alabama's Calvin Ridley though, this is a trigger that has to be pulled in Dallas.
Rotoworld: Maurice Hurst, DT - Michigan
Josh Norris' mock draft produces a familiar outcome for the Cowboys, but the talent he passes up on to mock Hurst to this team is certainly interesting.
"I know Vita Vea is on the board, but in Hurst the team is getting more of an upfield, disruptive lineman. He has special moments off the snap, creating instant penetration and totally destroying the offense’s plan."
Yawn. It feels inevitable that at least one mock draft each week will have the Cowboys doubling up on Michigan defensive linemen in the first round - upgrading the 3T position with Hurst. While I'm not dismissing Hurst's talent in any way, I don't see a consistent enough player (nor enough of a difference maker) to warrant the 19th overall pick.
Should the Cowboys lose RFA David Irving, there is no doubt they'll be in need of a disruptive defensive tackle. As the roster stands now though, the Cowboys' bigger need is at the 1T position - which Norris ignores despite the best player at that position (Vea) being available.
Bleacher Report: Tremaine Edmunds, LB - Virginia Tech
Like Chris Trapasso's mock, Mike Tanier's latest draft projection has another top player sliding the Cowboys' way.
"Tremaine Edmunds has been a tricky player to slot in this mock draft. He has limitless upside, but at a position (off-the-ball linebacker) that few teams prioritize in the first round anymore. He should be a Bobby Wagner/Luke Keuchly-caliber contributor by 2019, but whoever drafts him will experience some growing pains as the not-yet-20-year-old Edmunds learns not to get sucked into play action or get caught flat-footed in coverage."
An argument could be made for Tremaine Edmunds as the best LB in this draft. At the very least, he is in elite company atop the board with Roquan Smith. Both prospects play the WILL position, which Tanier correctly points out as one that is devalued currently.
This shouldn't stop Smith from having his name called early in the 2018 Draft, and I have my doubts about it doing the same for Edmunds. A freak athlete out of Virginia Tech, Edmunds will be just 19 years old at the time of April's draft.
This bodes exceptionally well for the Cowboys, who are of course preparing to start Sean Lee at WILL once again. Drafting Edmunds may go against this team's philosophy of drafting immediate starters, along with first round linebackers.
With all that said, Tremaine Edmunds is not a player I could pass up on with the 19th overall pick.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
The NFL Scouting Combine will give teams and draft analysts a much better evaluation of where all of these prospects truly belong. Through three weeks of doing this series, I can't say that any player mocked to the Cowboys has been a reach.
Instead, the likes of Smith, Edmunds, and Ridley could soon disappear entirely from the majority of Cowboys mock drafts moving forward. The bigger picture of who actually will be available to Dallas, and who they're targeting in the first round, is slowly coming into focus.
Cowboys Draft: 3 LBs To Pay Attention To
The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2018 NFL offseason with clear needs to fill at linebacker. Starting MIKE backer Anthony Hitchens will enter free agency, starting WILL Sean Lee has been riddled with injuries, and the now third-year Jaylon Smith is still somewhat of a question mark.
Considering all of the doubts surrounding the Cowboys linebackers, it would be wise to target one during the 2018 NFL Draft. Of course, Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have become fan favorites over the last few months.
Both of these guys are clearly first round players, however, and may both be gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock. Dallas will probably need to find their linebacker starting on day two, so I have compiled a short list of some potential targets.
Josey Jewell, Iowa
With each NFL Draft cycle, scouts everywhere can typically feel good about their evaluations of Iowa Hawkeyes players. The BIG 10 school is known for producing solid, pro-ready talent that NFL teams absolutely need to fill out a roster. Enter Iowa Linebacker Josey Jewell, a three-year starter and captain on this Hawkeyes defense.
Iowa Hawkeye's linebacker Josey Jewell has been gaining traction within the draft community as of late. The three-year starter and collegiate captain has been discussed as one of the more pro-ready and consistent linebackers in this draft class.
Jewell earned a third round grade on my draft board, and fellow Inside The Star writer Sean Martin saw him in a similar light. Jewell possesses impressive instincts, plays with textbook technique, and is a solid run defender/tackler in the box.
His main weakness, however, is his athletic ability. He doesn't move laterally as well as someone like current Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith did in college. Jewell is a player with a solid floor, but not a very high ceiling. Drafting him would give the Cowboys another good piece on their defense, and a starting SAM backer.
Sean Martin believes he can play at either WILL or MIKE, and we both view him as a potential target for the Cowboys 81st overall.
Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
Vander Esch reads it and attacks at 100 mph. Put this guy on my football team. https://t.co/RaTvP9sO7u
Boise State's Vander Esch is a linebacker garnering a lot of hype throughout Draft Twitter. At 6'4" and 240 pounds, Vander Esch certainly looks the part of an NFL linebacker. His athleticism and ability to move laterally leaves much to be desired, however.
Vander Esch totaled 141 tackles and 3 interceptions during the 2017 season, breaking onto the scene as a Junior. Vander Esch is a three down linebacker who has been labeled a leader and hard worker by his Boise State teammates and coaches, making him an excellent "RKG" candidate for Jason Garrett. He is an instinctual player who reads, reacts, and attacks on a routine basis against the run. He is also consistently impressive in coverage, something the Cowboys could use from their linebackers.
Despite his positives, which there are many, I just can't convince myself to draft Vander Esch as early as he's being talked about. I believe he can be a solid professional linebacker, and fit in as an off ball WILL, but if I were running the Cowboys I wouldn't make that pick until the third round.
And the way things look, Vander Esch will be long gone by the 81st overall pick. Maybe Dallas will see things differently, and make the move in round two.
Rashaan Evans, Alabama
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My favorite of these three linebackers, Alabama's Rashaan Evans is an off ball/edge hybrid who was all over the field for Alabama.
At 'Bama, Evans had six sacks and 10 quarterback hits, ranking 16th in pass rushing productivity (Pro Football Focus) among all qualifying draft-eligible inside linebackers. Still, I believe his best plays came from when lined up as a traditional off ball linebacker.
In Dallas, Evans could be used as a WILL backer who also rushes as a defensive end in passing situations. The 6'3" 234 pound linebacker is exactly the type of player that NFL defenses are moving towards, and he would be a welcomed addition to this young Cowboys defense.
I believe Rashaan Evans is a top-30 type of player, making it tough to envision being able to draft him 50th overall. If completely wiped out, Evans could be a candidate at 19, though I wouldn't hold my breath. Evans is ILB3 on my draft board, and earned the highest grade of these three linebackers.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
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