Whether you love Tony Romo or hate Tony Romo, you need to accept he will remain the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys for the foreseeable future. Owner Jerry Jones and Head Coach Jason Garrett have absolutely no intention of letting him leave in free agency next year. He will eventually sign a massive extension and no amount of grumbling and moaning from fans or media can change that fact. This is not a question of “if” he will resign but rather a question of “when” he will resign. The sooner everyone comes to terms with this, the quicker we can all move on.
In 2007 Tony Romo signed his first contract extension (6 yrs/$67.5M). That may sound like a lot of money but it only averages a modest $11.25 M per year, making Romo one of the biggest QB bargains in the NFL the past few years. Obviously Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Payton & Eli, and Ben Roethlisberger all average more (and for good reason), but consider this second group: Sam Bradford, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub, Matt Stafford, and Mark Sanchez also average more on their current deals.
You may not think Tony Romo belongs in the first group of Super Bowl winners (very few do) but he certainly belongs in that next tier of veteran QB’s. None of that second group have accomplished much nor do they rack up the kind of numbers Tony Romo does on a regular basis.
Throughout the length of Romo’s contract he has been willing to restructure whenever asked. The repeated restructuring has led to a back-loaded final year that isn’t what you would refer to as “cap friendly”. In 2013 he is scheduled to cost the Dallas Cowboys $16.8M. Since the team is roughly $18M over the cap, that $16.8M sure is inconvenient considering all of the upgrades this team needs. Now there is no way (I repeat, NO WAY) Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, or Jason Garrett let Tony Romo leave, so why are they dragging this out?
The sooner Romo is resigned the sooner money is freed up to sign inside and outside free agents. As currently built, the Cowboys couldn’t resign Spencer if they wanted to (Frankly they probably shouldn’t since it would come at the expense of upgrading the offensive line). The Cowboys need to free up cap room now. The easiest way to accomplish this task is to sign Tony Romo to an extension. They can structure the deal where the impact is felt in later years rather than this year. In addition they will also need to restructure a few other contracts and cut a few other underperforming veterans. But resigning Romo is the single biggest salary clearing move the Cowboys could make. More importantly it will allow Dallas to sign some free agents and dream of a better tomorrow.
The question many people ask is – how much does Tony Romo deserve? This is the wrong question to ask. The Cowboys will be paying whatever it takes to keep him so the real question to ask is – how much will it take to keep Tony Romo? That number will certainly be much higher than the $11.25 he averaged last extension. How much more? Probably closer to the $15-17M range which would place Romo around the top 5 highest paid QB list (based on average salary not total dollars or guaranteed dollars).
A good case can be made that Romo deserves something in the $12-14 M range but it’s pretty safe to say, he will cost much more than that. Remember, this isn’t an issue of what he deserves, but a matter of how much it will cost to keep him. If the Cowboys wait until after Flacco is resigned, that number will probably only increase, so what are they waiting for?
He may not be worth it but that’s really not the question at hand. Romo is staying with the Dallas Cowboys. How much will it cost to keep him? They better figure that out soon and get it done – before free agency begins and it’s too late.