Given Friday’s events, it’s clear that the suggestion that the Cowboys couldn’t have used the franchise tag on Tony Romo in 2014 came from the Romo camp as part of an effort to break whatever final hurdle(s) existed between the team and the player.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, it never was going to be issue.
The glitch that would have resulted in the final years of Romo’s contract voiding after the window for using the franchise tag had closed came, we’re told, from a deal that was done in 2011 to help create cap space. At that time, Romo, the Cowboys, and his agents agreed to commence the process to make Romo a Cowboy for life, and to get it done before the start of the final season of his current contract.
In the end, Romo was never going to leave the Cowboys. So it didn’t matter if there was no franchise tag to be used.
“Tony has a special relationship with Jerry [Jones], Stephen [Jones], and the Cowboys organization. The parties truly view it as a long-term partnership and they truly trust each other,” the source said. “Tony values being a Cowboy for life.”
Moreover, the guaranteed money in the new Romo deal ($55.5 million) hints that the franchise-tag formula was a factor in the negotiations. With a salary of $11.5 million in 2013 and franchise-tag numbers of $20.16 million and $24.19 million, respectively, in 2014 and 2015, Romo would have made $55.85 million over the next three years, if he had gone one year at a time under the franchise tag.
Either way, the Cowboys have gone all in with Romo. Today’s deal simply puts even more chips in the middle of the table.