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Tony Romo Contract: Release May Be Better For Cowboys Than Trade

Jess Haynie

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Tony Romo

Where Tony Romo plays in 2017 is arguably the hottest topic in the NFL right now outside of the conference championship games. It's almost assured that Romo will play for a team other than the Dallas Cowboys next year. Far less certain, though, is how he'll wind up there.

Given the size of Romo's deal there are some major salary cap ramifications for the Cowboys. No matter which way this goes they will have some significant cap space tied up in Romo for at least another year or two, even while he's no longer on the roster.

The key for Dallas will be weighing the overall gains and deciding which scenario works out best in the long run. Let's review the two basic options.

The Dallas Cowboys Trade Tony Romo

Tony RomoDon't let ESPN's ignorant talking heads fool you; trading Romo's contract isn't that complicated. If his contract is traded as-is, Romo's new team would only be accountable for the base salary of $14 million in 2017.

That is a bargain if you think Tony Romo is a guy who can help you compete in the postseason, which is the only reason any team would even want him. Plus, you're not liable for any dead money if you want to move on after 2017. It's really a great deal for the new team.

We always think of trades in terms of the draft picks, since this is far more common in the NFL, but there's also potential for Tony to be moved for another player. Dallas has plenty of needs this offseason; pass rushers, defensive backs, right tackle, or even a wide receiver, just to name a few.

If you can find a team with the right surplus of players at one position and a desperate need at quarterback, that could be your best value. Given how few teams may be interested in Romo, though, it's a less likely scenario.

The Dallas Cowboys Release Tony Romo

Tony RomoIf Dallas releases Romo outright then they save about $5 million off of his $24 million cap hit in 2017. That's not a lot of money but it certainly helps. The big savings would come in 2018 when the remaining $19 million in dead money drops off the books.

The problem with that is it's the same scenario whether Romo is released or if he's traded. Your facing the same dead money and cap situation without getting a draft pick or some other asset in return. There would still be some benefit for Dallas, but it would ultimately feel like a loss compared to other options.

This is where the June 1st provision comes into play. If the Cowboys designate Romo as a June 1st cut then they can add an additional $9 million to the 2017 salary cap; a total of about $14 million in immediate cap relief. It would defer about $10 million into 2018 as dead money, but by then you may be in a better position to deal with it.

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After seeing the Minnesota Vikings give up a first-round pick for Sam Bradford last year, it's hard to say anything with certainty about what Tony Romo is worth. The Houston Texans were arguably a competent quarterback away from upsetting the New England Patriots last Sunday. Could they be willing to gamble a high draft pick on possible Super Bowl contention?

Tony RomoThere's an old saying in real estate that a house is ultimately worth what someone was willing to pay.

If you can land a first or even a second-round pick for Romo then that probably outweighs all other options. Those are fantastic assets, especially when your team has been as successful in the draft as the Cowboys have lately.

However, if the best you can get for Romo is a mid-round pick or later, is that worth your financial flexibility? Would you be better off making him that June 1st release and having an extra $9 million to spend on free agents this offseason?

The oft-forgotten aspect of the June 1st provision, though, is that the cap space doesn't actually become available until that calendar date. Even if you cut Romo in March as a designated June 1st release, you won't get that cap space to spend during the prime free agency market.

That's not to say it wouldn't still be useful. Dallas could use those funds to sign rookies and perhaps get Zack Martin and La'el Collins signed to long-term extensions. Any unused cap space does roll over to the next season, too.

Dak Prescott, Tony Romo

How will Tony Romo's exit affect Dak Prescott's future?

The Cowboys are no longer in the time-crunch of trying to win during the Tony Romo window. They can afford to think more long-term now that Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the young offensive line are the nucleus of what should be a perennial contender. Perhaps having immediate cap space isn't as concerning now as it was during the Romo years.

That said, having been so close to their first NFC Championship Game since 1995, you know this organization isn't going to rest easy. The Cowboys want to get back in that position next year and break through. That's going to take some immediate help on defense, perhaps more than any one draft pick could get you.

Only Dallas' front office knows for sure what they covet more between draft picks and cap space. They have to weigh those things against who's actually available in free agency and the draft; a complex analysis that involves their own private opinion of each player and prospect.

Right now we can only speculate as to where they see the most value. However, in a few months, what they ultimately do with Tony Romo could tell us a lot more.


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!

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Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Rookie Report: Which Cowboys Draft Picks Stood Out Against the 49ers?

In the NFL, the third preseason week is often referred to as the "Dress Rehearsal." It's usually the week in which starters get the most playing time. That has changed lately, with plenty of teams deciding to take care of their key players instead of risking them on the field. However, the Dallas Cowboys have played their starters on their first two games and there's no reason to believe that will change versus the Texans today.

Here is my wishlist for the Cowboys vs Texans "Dress Rehearsal!" Let me know what your wishes for tonight's game are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Wish #1: Justin Phillips Locks Up a Roster Spot

Phillips has been one of the most surprising players this offseason and preseason. The Cowboys are set at linebacker, but Phillips has made sure to be a tough guy to cut. Last week, he had a remarkable interception against the Rams. Despite making a first step toward the line, he managed to adjust and made the play. He has followed it up with more plays in practice.

If he keeps it up, the Cowboys won't be able to cut him. He has the potential to be a force on special teams and a quality backup.

Can WR Devin Smith Sneak Onto the Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Devin Smith (AP Photo / Josie Lepe)

Wish #2: Devin Smith Makes Things Interesting

The battle for the final wide receiver spots is at full-go. Devin Smith has shined lately, and has risen as a serious candidate to make the roster. However, it seems like other wide receivers have the upper-hand as of now. Earlier this week, I made my Cowboys WR Power Rankings and had Devin Smith at #7.


His TD catch versus the Rams last week was pretty impressive, and I wish he makes a few more plays to make the debate all the more interesting.

Wish #3: Tony Pollard Does It Again

Fifth-round rookie Tony Pollard stole was the show last weekend as he racked up 51 total yards (five carries, one catch) and a touchdown on Dallas' first offensive drive. He looked impressive as the starting running back, giving us just what we wanted to see.

While many have advertised him as a gadget player, Pollard proved he can actually be a "standard" RB. He ran between the tackles, showed power, balance and great vision. I'm ready to watch it again, this time versus the Texans.

Cowboys Need More From Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton 1

Wish #4: Taco Charlton Shines Rushing The Passer

Taco Charlton has made a couple of plays in preseason on his third year with the Dallas Cowboys. Against the Rams, he batted down two passes and looked good separating from opposing offensive linemen. Charlton has gotten praise from some analysts during these first two preseason weeks.

But I want to watch some quality pass rush from his part. Right now, the Cowboys' roster counts with some promising players, including rookies Jalen Jelks and Joe Jackson. While they're currently below Taco, he must prove he belongs on the roster.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Cowboys’ Tight End Marcus Lucas with Huge Opportunity vs the Houston Texans

John Williams

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Cowboys' Tight End Marcus Lucas with Huge Opportunity vs the Houston Texans

With only two preseason games remaining, opportunities to make a statement are growing thin. The Dallas Cowboys have very few spots on the roster available, especially at the tight end position where Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz appear to have the depth chart locked down. The problem is, Jarwin and Schultz have been dealing with injuries and missed the second preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams and probably won't play against the Houston Texans tonight.

Enter Marcus Lucas.

Marcus Lucas hasn't been a member of the Dallas Cowboys for very long, but he's already made an impact.

In his first preseason game with the Dallas Cowboys, Lucas caught four passes on four targets for 20 yards. His receptions went for two, seven, five, and six yards for an average of five yards per reception. He did have a holding penalty that cost the Dallas Cowboys 10 yards on a first down play that didn't go anywhere anyway.

Though Lucas has bounced around NFL practice squads, he's never really found a home. After going undrafted in 2014, Lucas was signed by the Carolina Panthers in May of that year but wasn't able to stick on the 53-man roster and was released and placed on the practice squad. In 2015, he was on the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears practice squads. In 2016, the Panthers brought him back in the summer after the Bears released him from their 90-man roster. That September after cut-down day, the Seattle Seahawks signed Lucas to their practice squad where he spent all of 2016. From 2017 to the end of 2018, Lucas spent time with the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, the Seattle Seahawks again, and the San Francisco 49ers. He was with the 49ers in 2019 before joining the Dallas Cowboys about two weeks ago and will get an extended run in these final two preseason games.


At Thursday's practice, Lucas was the only tight end available with Jason Witten getting a rest day and Jarwin, Schultz, and fellow Tight End Cody McElroy dealing with injuries.

Todd Archer on Twitter

With Jason Witten getting a day of rest, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz and Codey McElroy injured, the Cowboys have one tight end practicing today: Marcus Lucas, who has been with the team for about two weeks.

It's possible that Lucas may get an extended amount of playing time tonight with an opportunity to show the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL that he's ready to land on a 53-man roster. With likely only Jason Witten being the only other tight end active for the game against the Houston Texans, Lucas will get a lot of playing time. If his last preseason exposure is any indication, he'll get the chance to display his receiving prowess.

At 27, Lucas likely has few opportunities left to make his mark for an NFL franchise. On a team that proclaims the "next man up" as a battle cry, after Witten, Lucas is the next man up for tonight and depending on his performance could make the Dallas Cowboys front office or another front office around the league take notice.

Depending on the long-term health of the Dallas Cowboys' tight end position, Lucas may find his path to a roster spot simply dependent upon the health of Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. Though a job may not come with the Dallas Cowboys, tonight is an extremely important audition for his next suitor. How he performs tonight could land Marcus Lucas a job after the Dallas Cowboys trim the roster to 53 next week.

They say "preseason games don't matter," but to Marcus Lucas, this might be the most important game of his career.


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Dallas Cowboys

Don’t Forget Special Teams Value in Cowboys Roster Decisions

Jess Haynie

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C.J. Goodwin

Building a 53-man roster in the NFL is a complex formula, requiring balance between numerous positions on each side of the ball. But what often gets overlooked in our analysis as outsiders is special teams, and that's a huge factor for many of the Dallas Cowboys players hoping to make it past final cuts.

Some players have survived in the league by being just good enough at their listed positions but excelling in special teams roles. You may think of former Dallas safety Bill Bates, who was personally responsible for a special teams player being made part of the annual Pro Bowl roster. A more recent example would be Keith Davis, who was an adequate safety but a special teams ace for several seasons.

To be sure, someone is going to be on this 2019 Cowboys more for their special teams value than their actual offensive or defensive ability. Who might he, or they, be?

One candidate is veteran Cornerback C.J. Goodwin. He is considered an exceptional talent in coverage on punts, which is probably the only reason he's still in the NFL today. At age 29, Goodwin has never really emerged as a consistent contributor on defense.

Young players like Donovan Olumba or rookie Michael Jackson, if not already superior cornerbacks to Goodwin, have far more upside to keep on the roster. But

considering how little they may get on the field anyway as the fifth or sixth corners, you can see why special teams value becomes so important. It may be the only time you actually see them in the game.

If the Cowboys don't want to lose a young prospect but can't let go of Goodwin's special teams ability, it may prompt them to go long at the CB position. But that means taking a roster spot from some other position, and thus the balancing act continues.


Don't Forget About RB Jordan Chunn in the Cowboys Backfield

Dallas Cowboys RB Jordan Chunn

Another player to watch in this discussion is second-year an Running Back Jordan Chunn. He doesn't have Alfred Morris' experience or maybe Mike Weber or Darius Jackson's rushing talent, but he has been showing up on the special teams units.

Yesterday, Cowboys insider Bryan Broaddus called Chunn "a better Rod Smith" in analyzing his chances of making the roster. If you don't recall, Jaylon's older brother was a solid RB but a standout special teams player in his few years with Dallas.

As we just mentioned with the 5th/6th CB slots, the third running back is not a guy you expect to see much on offense. That will be especially true this year as Dallas will be struggling just to give rookie Tony Pollard the touches he deserves as the number-two RB.

Given that, special teams play becomes vital for the value of whoever is behind Zeke and Pollard on the depth chart. If Jordan Chunn is superior to his competition in that regard, it could negate whatever he lacks as an actual running back.

This same conversation can be had throughout the roster. It's why Noah Brown might make the team over more traditionally gifted receivers, or why a certain linebacker or safety might be more valued than others.

We make the common mistake of referring to "both sides of the ball" when we talk about football teams. There are three sides; special teams can't be underestimated. It will certainly play a part in how the Dallas Cowboys finalize their 53-man roster this season and in years to come.


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