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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.

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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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5 Comments
  • Kevin Brady

    I roll my eyes every time I hear someone on TV tell me no one will be able to take on Romo’s contract. The Jets signed Fitzpatrick for $12 million last season. Romo at 14 would be a steal.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

      What I’m learning is that most of those guys on TV don’t understand his contract. They see the $24MIL 2017 price and think that’s the amount a team will have to pay him. Never do they break that down into what is a very simple concept… his total Cowboys cap number for 2017 included prorated bonus money that the Cowboys only must pay him. His salary is all that matters to other teams.

  • Russ_Te

    Fat, long-term contract in 2013 at age 33. Injuries start up again, 2013 season >
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Romo

    I hope in the Romo epilogue, the Jones’ will study the matter of when and when not to mortgage future.

    That said, whatever error they made overspending last time on Romo, can be said to be made up for by the skill (luck) of acquiring Dak. He’s cheap right now, and you didn’t go years between top QB’s, as was the case from Aikman to Romo.

    Simple logic would say that teams know Romo is gone for whatever cap it saves, and will not trade anything. But by que’ing that June 1 release, maybe somebody will get antsy who thinks they are a veteran QB away from contention, and want him in the fold before that juncture in their 2017 year.

    I remember when the Vikings traded years of future for Herschel Walker, and coach Jerry Burns then used him as a kick returner… ;^)

    So I assume the Jones’ will try to posture Romo to get an offer, and then release him if nobody bites. IMO he’s a dern fool to risk further damage to his body and long-term health. A SB ring is not worth creaky joints and constant pain the rest of his life.

    • Jess Haynie

      Interesting what you said about Jerry not mortgaging the future. I think he’s learned his lesson in a way, exemplified by the fact that they haven’t restructured Dez Bryant’s contract yet. He’s understanding the value of maintaining financial flexibility.

  • Russ_Te

    Then the Doug Free situation plays out along with Romo. If I have $14 million in cap from the release of both players, I hope they will go aggressively with that $ to solve RT first, and not have it an open mess on draft day.

    Some want Leary signed and then Collins moved to RT. I think his talent permits it – actually it could be a great move to keep him healthy & not take the pounding of being inside. But it is a dice roll.

    Or go get a name RT if one is available. IMO the draft needs to be about DL and CB, and another project TE to bring to camp with Gathers.

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Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

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Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

✭✭✭✭✭

Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

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La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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