With long-time Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo essentially crying “Uncle” regarding the job he’s held for more than a decade, the question becomes where Romo will continue his career in 2017.
It’s clear based on Romo’s statement that he won’t be retiring. Unless the Cowboys give him a full and fair chance to compete for the job in Dallas (even then, Romo may not want that), he’ll be released or traded in the offseason.
An informal poll of several coaches and decision-makers earlier this year yielded a projected range of trade value from absolutely nothing to a conditional pick that would go as high as a second-rounder. Although the question was asked when Romo wasn’t healthy, he has a habit of becoming not healthy on a regular basis.
Although his latest contract made it impossible for the Cowboys to cut or trade Romo, in 2017 the dead money would be $19.6 million. The cap charge for keeping him would be $24.7 million. Beyond the $5.1 million net cap savings, the Cowboys would avoid $14 million in cash by cutting or trading Romo.
The relatively low cost of keeping Romo (relative to the high end of the quarterback market) coupled with a bargain-basement, fourth-round slotted deal for Prescott that can’t be renegotiated until after the 2018 season could tempt the Cowboys to keep both, with Romo being a high-priced but high-value backup option. Still, Romo’s statement makes it clear that he wants to play.
Where will that happen? With non-guaranteed salaries of $14 million, $19.5 million, and $20.5 million over the next three years, teams will be interested. Romo specifically will be the most interested in a team with a great defense, a solid offensive line, and a competent running game. Intriguing options include the Jets, Texans (John McClain of the Houston Chronicle recently said on PFT Live that this would never happen), Broncos, Chiefs, Washington (if Kirk Cousins leaves via free agency), the Bears, and the Cardinals (if the team decides Carson Palmer is done).