Tony Romo is reportedly retiring from the NFL to pursue a career in broadcasting. The Cowboys were prepared to grant him his release and allow him to sign with another team – likely the Texans or Broncos – but he’s opting to put his health and future ahead of football.
With Romo’s departure from the league come several ripple effects. It not only impacts the Cowboys, but it also affects several other teams in the NFL. Here are five ways his retirement will impact the 2017 season.
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys’ cap situation is finally clear
Dallas is reportedly planning to designate Romo a post-June 1 cut, which has different implications on their salary cap than a traditional release. As a result, Romo will count $10.7 million against the cap in 2017, and $8.9 million in 2018.
That’s far less than the $24.7 million hit the Cowboys would have taken had he been on the roster this season. No one really expected that to happen, but now that we know Romo’s fate, we can begin to sort out Dallas’ cap situation.
While it’s great that they’ll free up $14 million in cap space this season, they won’t get that relief until June 2. There aren’t many big-name free agents out there right now anyway, so having to wait for the additional money won’t be a big deal.
Erich SchlegelErich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots remain the team to beat in the AFC
When it became clear Romo wasn’t going to be in Dallas’ plans, it was believed that his next team would immediately become a contender in the AFC. The Texans and Broncos both have Super Bowl-ready defenses with good skill-position players, only needing a quarterback to complete the puzzle.
Without adding Romo as an option, both of those teams will revert to their places in the middle of the AFC pack. In turn, the Patriots remain the team to beat, and by a fairly wide margin.
The Steelers are a good team, but they’ve done little to improve this offseason. The Colts have Andrew Luck, and the Raiders have Derek Carr, but there are still question marks with both of their teams’ defenses.
The Texans or Broncos would have challenged the Patriots more than any of those three teams in the AFC with Romo, but that will no longer be the case.
Winslow TownsonWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Dak Prescott no longer has anyone looking over his shoulder
For just about all of last season, Prescott had Romo behind him on the depth chart, ready to pounce on the starting job at the first glimmer of an opportunity. Even though Prescott was unequivocally the starter, there was always a chance he would give way to Romo if he had one terrible game.
With Romo retiring, Prescott will have an even stronger grip on the starting job. Kellen Moore isn’t coming for the top spot on the depth chart, nor is any other player the Cowboys might sign (or draft). There will no longer be whispers about Romo being a better quarterback when healthy, or a guy more deserving of the gig.
No more questions to answer about Romo helping him in the locker room or being a good mentor. It’s now all Dak, all the time.
The Broncos will go forward with their current QBs
The Broncos aren’t in great shape quarterback-wise, but it’s not a dire situation. They have Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch at the top of the depth chart, and they are two young quarterbacks with plenty to prove.
Siemian was underwhelming in 2016, leading the Broncos to a 9-7 record, and he’s not a guy with a high ceiling. He doesn’t have elite size or arm strength, and he’s more of a game manager than a true franchise quarterback. Lynch, on the other hand, was a promising prospect out of Memphis last year. He has the makings of a future Pro Bowler, boasting good size and athleticism.
Lynch simply needed time to develop as an NFL quarterback, which he had last season. The expectation on the part of Denver should be that he’ll enter training camp as the top quarterback. If he fails to secure the job, look for the Broncos to go with Siemian for another year, hoping he can improve upon his 2016 season.
The Texans now need a quarterback
What’s next for the Texans, who are left with very few other options at quarterback? It’s Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. That’s it. No Tony Romo. No Brock Osweiler. The Texans have to sell their fan base on Savage being their starting quarterback … for now.
Houston likely will turn its attention to the draft with Romo out of the mix. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go on the clock until pick No. 25, which means most of the top quarterbacks will probably be off the board. A guy like Patrick Mahomes fits well in Bill O’Brien’s system, but he’s unlikely to be around for Houston's selection.
Instead, the Texans could look to make a trade – either up in the draft, or for a certain quarterback in Foxborough. Jimmy Garoppolo actually makes a lot of sense for the Texans, seeing as he’s young and fills a big need. Houston could also look at a guy like Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick, who remain on the open market.
As you can see, there aren’t many options out there, which isn’t ideal for the Texans.