The Cowboys already have been attempting to lay the foundation to trade quarterback Tony Romo. Given the unique circumstances of his situation, however, the team should consider releasing him instead.
Don’t be surprised if Romo at some point asks to be released. A release would give him multiple flexibility for the selection of his next team, and his next team would not have its ability to put talent around him undermined by the sacrifice of draft picks or players in order to obtain Romo.
The move likewise would allow Romo to negotiate his best possible deal on the open market, in lieu of getting a middle-of-the-pack $14 million salary in 2017 under his current contract. And while Romo can negotiate a new deal to facilitate a trade, the team that acquires him may be more likely to pay more if it’s getting him without having to give up draft picks or players.
Releasing Romo also gives the Cowboys more flexibility for absorbing the $19.6 million cap hit. If he’s released with a post-June 1 designation, the Cowboys would absorb $10.7 million this year and $8.9 million in 2018.
That said, the Cowboys have the right to try to get value in return for the Romo contract, like the Packers did nine years ago after the First Annual Brett Favre Unretirement. But the circumstances were far different; Favre had been tormenting the team with his Umpteenth Annual Retirement Deliberations, and when he decided to come back, he wanted to make a beeline for an NFC North rival.
Romo is out of a job not because of anything he said or did, but because the Cowboys have found his replacement. Besides, Romo likely has no intention to play for the Giants, Eagles, or Washington. Given his close relationship with owner Jerry Jones, they surely could strike a wink-nod deal regarding the teams for which he won’t play.
So, yes, they should cut him. Whether they will or won’t is a question that will be resolved sooner than later, and it eventually will become one of the biggest questions of the offseason.