"We think Tony's one of the top-echelon quarterbacks in the NFL," Stephen told Mad Dog Sports Radio's Adam Schein on Wednesday. "We really felt like at the end of the day that he has four or five years left."
Stephen said it was a unanimous decision to draft Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin instead of Manziel, adding, "We had gone through it many times leading up to the draft, (so) we were really at peace when the decision came."
What did Romo say during his conversation with Stephen?
"Of course, his response, as you might expect from Tony, was, 'Well, if you decide to, it ain't going to matter, there's no one out there who can beat me out.'"
Coming off a December surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back, Romo will be limited throughout the offseason program. Stephen said the Cowboys coaches will "manage his pitch count" so Romo isn't rushed back too soon.
"He's as excited as he has ever been," Stephen said. "He really likes what Scott Linehan has in mind for our offense. He feels like with the moves we made during the draft and solidifying our offensive line and some of the weapons we have, he's never been more excited about our football team in terms of what we can get accomplished."