Last year, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo played in only four games. This year, he could miss half the season, or more, with a back injury suffered on Thursday night in Seattle.
At some point, the Cowboys need to ask themselves whether Romo continues to be worth the money he makes, in light of his age, his injury history, and the likelihood of future injuries.
They may decide that Romo is worth it, and he may get the benefit of the doubt that comes from being the best quarterback in franchise history not named Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman. Then again, the Cowboys also may rip the “ROMO” off the back of the jersey make a business decision about a player who, in the last two years, isn’t providing much of a return on his investment.
Via Spotrac.com, Romo is due to make $8.5 million this year, $14 million in 2017, $19.5 million in 2018, and $20.5 million in 2019. Apart from the cash commitments, the cap number becomes a very important consideration.
For now, the total cap hit for cutting Romo still exceeds the current-year cap charge for keeping him. As of next year, however, it flips. In 2017, keeping Romo results in a $24.6 million cap charge, dumping him triggers a total cap charge of $19.6 million, which the Cowboys could spread over two years. In 2018, the gap becomes even more significant, with a $25.2 million hit to keep Romo and only $8.9 million in dead money from cutting him.
Regardless, then, of the number of years Romo intends to continue to play, at some point the Cowboys will need to ask whether they want him to continue to play, and the dollars and cap hits will be a factor in that assessment — especially in 2018. Perhaps the biggest factor will be the team’s alternatives at the position. That makes Dak Prescott’s performance during Romo’s 6-10 week absence even more important.