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

Jess Haynie



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!

  • 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.

    • 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 >

    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.

Player News

Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys

Brian Martin



Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys

It looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be adding yet another wide receiver through free agency. According to sources, Allen Hurns plans on signing with the Cowboys.

Josina Anderson on Twitter

WR Allen Hurns just told me, "I'm going to sign with Dallas." #Cowboys

This is a move that seemed unlikely after the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson a few days ago, but I know a lot of Cowboys Nation will be excited about this transaction.

Allen Hurns joins a receiver group that features Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown, and the recently added Deonte Thompson.

While this move is exciting, it does create more confusion for the Cowboys and their wide receivers. It's difficult to imagine all of these WRs sticking to the roster, which means there will be some tough decisions that need to be made.

What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant?

Will Cole Beasley be cut or traded?

Are the Cowboys comfortable absorbing Terrance Williams' cap hit if traded or released?

Will this keep the Cowboys from drafting a WR early?

All of these questions and more will have to be answered eventually. But, one thing is for sure, things are definitely about to get interesting.

Of course, there is a bonus here for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Allen Hurns was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he doesn't count against the Cowboys compensatory picks next season.

Please stay tuned and we will continue to keep you updated on contract details and any other news involving Allen Hurns as it becomes available.

What do you think about the Allen Hurns signing?

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Dallas Cowboys

What Signing Thompson Means for Hurns and Cowboys WR Position

Mauricio Rodriguez



Questions Surround Cowboys WR Position After Deonte Thompson Signing

UPDATE: News of Hurns saying he will sign with the Cowboys broke as this article went live. 

Free Agency began a bit late for the Dallas Cowboys, but they've already done enough to get fans discussing about the latest additions to the roster. Adding help on offense, defense and special teams in form of tier-2 free agents may not be what Cowboys Nation wants to see, but I'm certain they wouldn't have enjoyed giving Sammy Watkins a three-year $48M contract, either.

However, the Cowboys are clearly in the wide receiver market after an offensively disappointing season. They have quite a few of this year's class of wide receivers prospects scheduled to visit Dallas, and they've hosted some WR free agents as well.

This week, they even signed one.

Deonte Thompson, who started seven games for the Bills last year, is coming to Dallas on a one-year $2.5M contract. The 29-year old could be the burner receiver this offense is missing and could end up being an improved version of Brice Butler for the Cowboys in 2018.

He hasn't had a great career but last season was his best year so far. Starting three games for the Bears and seven for the Bills, Thompson was able to rack up a career-high 555 yards and two touchdowns.

His best attribute as a player is definitely the speed he brings to the table and his ability to separate down the field, which he'll be looking to do on Dak Prescott's offense this season.

But there was another wide receiver visiting Dallas this week and now we wonder whether or not the Deonte Thompson signing will keep the Cowboys from targeting former Jaguars' WR Allen Hurns.

According to Todd Archer, that won't be the case.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Told the signing of Deonte Thompson does not close the door on the Cowboys' interest in Allen Hurns, who visited the team Wednesday and had dinner. Things could get interesting in the Cowboys' wide receivers' room.

It shouldn't be. First of all, Hurns is a much better player than Thompson and would provide this offense with a receiver who can play in the "X" or in the "Z" role. We've been talking about getting Prescott a reliable target to try to give him a "best friend." Allen Hurns could be just that.

Sure, he's had a couple of down seasons, but the talent is there to take.

Simply put, the Deonte Thompson signing shouldn't stop the Cowboys from looking at WR in the first round of the NFL Draft. Allen Hurns would.

Cowboys en Español: Nuevas Contrataciones, ¿Podría Ser Allen Hurns la Siguiente?

It sure would make things interesting in the wide receiver room for Dallas. Despite what many believe, Dez Bryant will probably remain a Cowboy even if Hurns is signed. Let's say the Cowboys go out there and get the 26-year old from Jacksonville and have to decide which six receivers to keep for the season.

They'd possibly have to decide among these:

  • Dez Bryant
  • Terrrance Williams
  • Cole Beasley
  • Ryan Switzer
  • Allen Hurns
  • Deonte Thompson
  • Noah Brown
  • A drafted rookie?  

This is where a lot of dilemmas start taking form. Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer are basically the same player and if you're not going to use them both at the same time, do you keep them anyway? What about Terrance Williams? He could be the worst receiver to make the cut just because of his contract. 

Noah Brown showed promise in 2017, are they ready to move on from him? And finally, a rookie could very well end up beating Deonte Thompson, who was guaranteed a million in his contract.

Wide receiver is indeed one of the top needs for the Dallas Cowboys. They could head to the 2018 NFL Draft needing one in the top rounds or they could be fine signing Hurns and taking a late-rounder receiver to compete in training camp for a spot on the roster.

As long as they're having a tough time deciding because they are all good, it should be fine.

Tell me what you think about "What Signing Thompson Means for Hurns and Cowboys WR Position" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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