The Dallas Cowboys will reportedly close the book on the Tony Romo era Thursday when they release the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback, according to multiple reports. With Dak Prescott entrenched as the future of the team, the Cowboys don’t have a choice but to cut ties with Romo and allow him to become a free agent.
Jerry Jones likely tried to work out a deal with another team, but considering his contract and the compensation the Cowboys were looking for, it should come as no surprise a trade couldn’t be reached.
With Romo on the open market, there should be a fair amount of interest. Two AFC teams in particular should be the favorites to land him, but there are a couple of other franchises that could take a long look at the veteran QB. Here are his five likeliest destinations.
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I know, I know, it’s probably not going to happen. Jerry Jones and Romo seem to have some type of agreement where the Cowboys would release him and let him choose his team, as long as it isn’t a division rival. However, there’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding Kirk Cousins’ future in Washington with a trade to the 49ers a possibility.
If that were to happen, the Redskins would be in the market for a quarterback, and with Romo sitting there as a free agent, how does he not at least interest them? They have pieces in place to win now, having won 17 games in the past two years. Their offensive line is decent, Jordan Reed is one of the best tight ends in the league, and their wide receiver depth is decent as long as DeSean Jackson returns.
It (probably) won’t happen simply because of the fact that Romo wouldn’t go against Jones’ wishes and sign with another team in the NFC East. As fun as it would be to see Romo play the Cowboys twice a year, it’s a long shot to actually happen.
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The Bears have been heavily linked to Mike Glennon, who’s reportedly in line to land a deal in the range of $14-$15 million. Romo would cost more than that, but he’s also substantially better than Glennon is – even with his injury history.
Romo doesn’t exactly fit the mold of what Chicago is trying to do, but he would be a massive upgrade over any of the quarterbacks they have a chance of landing for next season. There isn’t a rookie more talented than Romo, and the free-agency pool is thin on talent.
While the Bears are still technically a team that could land Romo, it’s not likely to happen. Chicago is cold, windy and plays at Soldier Field eight times a year and Lambeau Field once. Romo, given his past injuries and questionable back, would likely prefer to play in a warm-climate city or under a dome.
The Bears need a young quarterback to develop, not a guy like Romo. They’re more than a quarterback away from contending.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs aren’t an obvious choice, seeing as they have Alex Smith entrenched as the starter and not a lot of cap space. However, by declining Nick Foles’ option, releasing Alex Smith and making a handful of other small moves, they can free up more than $16 million in cap space.
Similar to the Texans, the Chiefs are built to win a Super Bowl now. They have playmakers on offense in Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, a decent running game and offensive line, and a defense that’s among the best in the NFL. Smith hasn’t been able to capitalize on the talent Kansas City has surrounded him with, so it could be time for a change.
The biggest obstacle for this to happen remains the Chiefs’ cap space, which is extremely thin. If they really want Romo, they should be able to make the necessary moves to make it happen.
The Broncos have two capable quarterbacks in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch on the roster. What they don’t have is a surefire starter who can lead them to a Super Bowl. Romo can do that.
As long as the Broncos can shore up their offensive line issues, Romo makes Denver a Super Bowl contender, just like Peyton Manning did a few years ago when he signed there. He may not be the most durable quarterback, but when healthy, Romo is substantially better than both Lynch and Siemian.
He immediately makes them the team to beat in the AFC West, and yes, that’s taking into account how good the Raiders and Chiefs are. Romo is exactly the move John Elway has a history of making, bringing in veteran stars to help a young team take the next step.
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The Texans still make the most sense for Romo, as they have for months. Brock Osweiler clearly isn’t the answer in Houston and isn’t likely to even be on the roster in 2018. Romo makes the Texans Super Bowl contenders right away, which is huge for a team that’s built to win now.
They simply can’t continue to waste prime years of players like J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney with terrible quarterback play. And now that Romo will be released, they’ll be able to re-work his contract in a way that allows them to keep both him and Osweiler on the roster.
Not to mention, Romo has his third child on the way, and keeping his family in Texas rather than uprooting them is a huge factor. The Texans should be the favorites to land him.