By now many of you must be wondering what will ultimately happen with Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. It’s been weeks since the start of Free Agency, and before that the news broke that the Cowboys informed Romo that he would be released on March 9, and that was the last that anyone has heard about the team’s intent to release the veteran quarterback.
According to My Top Sportsbooks, there is still a decent chance that the Cowboys will cut Tony Romo, but the question is more a matter of when they will cut him.
Day 1 of Free Agency began amidst a flurry of trade talks. The Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans reportedly showed interest, if you were following the Dallas media. If you followed the Denver and Houston media, though, neither team was actually interested in trading for Tony Romo.
Reports from each location specifically denied the team’s interest in a trade, and only Houston really expressed much interest in him at all. In a clear statement, they said Tony Romo was not an option for them until he was on the open market.
The Texans struggled last year with second-year quarterback, Brock Osweiler, after giving him a considerably large, 5-year, $72M contract before the 2016 season. But during the season, Osweiler gave way to Tom Savage for several games and he wasn’t bad. Since then there has been a lot of talk about Savage possibly being the starter over Osweiler in 2017, and that talk was substantiated when the Texans traded Osweiler to the Cleveland Browns.
The Broncos had stated that if they were to pursue Tony Romo, it would also be on the open market, and that it would mean the team is finished with Trevor Siemian. Siemian started 14 games for Denver in 2016, while then-Rookie QB Paxton Lynch developed his skills and started two games. Lynch is the future of the franchise and the Broncos seem quite comfortable with that position.
So then where does that leave Tony Romo?
Well, for now at least, it leaves him on the Cowboys’ roster.
About the only thing that is certain at this point is that Dak Prescott is the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, which means Tony Romo can be nothing more than a backup.
It’s quite the luxury the Cowboys have with Romo as a backup. They’re the only team in the NFL with a proven, high-caliber player in a backup role at a skill position. Sure, there are plenty of questions about his durability, but few can deny his ability to win games when healthy. So if Dallas decides to hang onto Romo for 2017, they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, only wasteful.
Tony Romo is due more than $24M in 2017 if he remains a Cowboy. That’s a mighty sum to pay a backup, at any position. Many feel the Cowboys must release Tony to free up some of that cap space.
If the Cowboys were to cut Tony Romo today, they’d free up about $5M in space on the 2017 salary cap. His base salary of $14M would disappear and the prorated portions of his contract over the next three season would advance to 2017 (about $19M). If they were to designate Tony as a post-June 1 cut, the 2017 cap space would increase by $5M immediately, with another $10M available to them on June 2. The only downside to the June 1 option is that it would leave nearly $9M on the 2018 cap, which figures to be a problem due to the coming extension for offensive guard, Zack Martin, among other things.
Several teams are still in the market for a quarterback who can win, even if only tentatively, and Romo is no doubt aware of them all.
The Kansas City Chiefs are a distant possibility with increasing tension between starting QB Alex Smith and Head Coach Andy Reid. But Alex Smith is under contract through 2017, and has an option in his contract for 2018. Figuring Reid would take the smart approach and keep Smith on the roster, the Chiefs would have to shell out $16.9M to Smith on top of whatever contract they give Romo. That’s a lot of money for one position.
The Washington Redskins were an option, until they placed the franchise tag on returning QB Kirk Cousins. They also have Colt McCoy on the roster.
The San Francisco 49ers are under new management with first-time General Manager John Lynch stepping out of the FOX broadcast booth, and they’re not exactly happy with the best QB on their roster. Colin Kaepernick has sparked controversy in recent years for refusing to honor our National Anthem, and in combination with a few shortcomings on the field, this seems to be enough to warrant the Niners moving on. Both Kaepernick and their 2016 starter Blaine Gabbert are free agents.
The Chicago Bears signed Mike Glennon.
The New York Jets just signed Josh McCown to join Christian Hackenberg, and Bryce Petty on the depth chart. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a free agent.
The Buffalo Bills seem resolute with Tyrod Taylor under center.
And the list goes on and on.
The bottom line is this: if Tony Romo can stay healthy for a whole season, his current 2017 salary of $14M would be a bargain for any team that feels a top-rated quarterback is the only thing lacking for Super Bowl contention. But that’s a pretty big if.
Too big for most teams to swallow, it would seem.
The Dallas Cowboys are nearing very dangerous territory the longer they hold onto Tony Romo, preventing him from moving on to a meaningful opportunity with another team. Spots are being filled, leaving fewer openings for Romo to play, and that’s clearly what he wants, is to play, to compete.
Players throughout the league notice when a team places the team so far ahead of the player, and while everyone knows the NFL is a business, who really wants to work for a company who treats their employees badly? I outlined the case of another La’el Collins happening after this, should the Cowboys really do Romo wrong, on a recent episode of The Star Podcast. Give it a listen if you want to hear more about that.
Some are rumbling about doing Romo wrong by holding him back (myself included). Others are saying the Cowboys should force Romo to either back up Dak Prescott in 2017 or retire. But most seem to agree that Tony Romo is done in Dallas, one way or another.
For now, however, we are resigned to waiting. The Cowboys will make their intentions clear at some point, and logic would have that clarity coming before the NFL Draft next month, but only time will tell.
What do you guys think? Will Tony Romo be a Cowboy come September, will he even be in the league? I’d love to read your feedback in the comments below.