Despite rumors Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo might request his release this offseason, the franchise must get something in return for him instead.
Something that was unthinkable just a few months ago has now become reality. The Dallas Cowboys all but appear ready to move on from veteran quarterback Tony Romo. Following a disastrous 4-12 regular season in 2015, Romo’s stock in Dallas seemed to be at an all-time high. Now, a late fourth round selection in this year’s NFL Draft has changed the destiny of both the 36-year old quarterback and America’s Team as a whole.
Following last year, where Romo’s collarbone injuries were seen as the primary reason the Cowboys tanked following a terrific 12-4 record the season before, the veteran’s return to the lineup was much anticipated. In fact, over the offseason Dallas’ vice president Stephen Jones was quoted as saying Romo was in some of the best shape he’s been in. Then, three offensive plays into the Cowboys preseason matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, everything changed.
The aging quarterback suffered a compression fracture in his lower back. And due to a previous broken ankle suffered by primary back-up Kellen Moore, fourth round selection out of Mississippi State Dak Prescott was forced into the starting role. I’m fairly comfortable in saying everyone at the time believed that was just a temporary assignment. Fifteen weeks into the regular seasons, and twelve wins later, the unthinkable is reality. Prescott has overtaken Romo for the foreseeable future.
And Prescott’s stellar performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Sunday night, in front of a prime time audience, has likely sealed the fate for all involved. Following a week full of criticism after the Cowboys suffered their second straight loss to their divisional rivals, the New York Giants, Prescott went on to put together one of the greatest outings in NFL history.
Completing 88.8% of his passes, 32 of 36, Prescott became only the second quarterback in league history with a completion percentage that high while throwing 30+ passes in a single game. The performance aided Dallas in getting their twelfth victory of the season while effectively shutting down all the negative talk surrounding the rookie’s play of late.
But Prescott’s rebound performance has also likely closed the door entirely to a possible Romo return in 2017. Instead, the former franchise quarterback will in all likelihood be traded this offseason. That is unless the recent rumors are true, and Romo could be looking to get released by the team in order to increase his free agency options as well as placing the decision as to where he might play next year solely in his own hands.
Despite the sense of loyalty the Cowboys brass may feel towards Romo, specifically from owner and general manager Jerry Jones, Dallas must absolutely get something in return for their former starter under center. In fact, I’d argue that Romo would be more valuable as the highest paid back-up in the league than simply given his outright release.
The fact is franchise quarterbacks are hard to find, regardless of their age and injury history. If you don’t believe me, just ask the San Francisco 49ers, the Chicago Bears, the New York Jets, the Houston Texans, the Buffalo Bills, the Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos, the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams. All of whom would likely prefer Romo to what they have under center today.
Quarterbacks like Romo are rare and valuable, plain and simple. If the Cowboys are going to move on from Tony, they simply must get something in return. As far as the salary cap is concerned, there appears to be no difference in releasing or trading Romo in 2017.
“Whether [Romo’s] cut or traded, the cap charge will be the same next year — $19.6 million, the cost of all those contract restructures,” wrote Sporting News contributor Jason Fitzgerald. “Dallas saves anywhere from $14 million to $19 million by moving on from Romo. For a team that currently projects to have the worst cap situation in 2017, that would seem like a smart move despite the dead money total staring it in the face.”
It’s clear, the Cowboys will want to move on from Romo this offseason. It simply make fiscal sense. But all things being even, why wouldn’t they want to get something in return for a franchise quarterback over simply releasing him? Especially considering the Cowboys needs on the defensive side of the ball.
If Romo resists, and pushes for his release, the Cowboys should be willing to pay out his salary to stay in Dallas another season as a back-up. If the veteran truly wished to start elsewhere next year, he should be willing to play ball and be traded. In this case, the Dallas Cowboys must do what’s best for the team, not the player.