The Easter Bunny came a little early for Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo when he inked a six-year contract extension worth $108 million, with $55 million guaranteed money, on Friday. Making Romo the highest paid player in Cowboys franchise history is certainly not the most popular decision Jerry Jones and company have made in Big D, but it may well prove to be among the smartest.
The ginormous contract made it a foregone conclusion that Romo will spend the remainder of his career in Big D. Since he turns 33 this month, it is yet to be determined just how long that will end up being. Cowboys Nation can only hope that when his legacy is officially written, it will include Super Bowl glory and not just a string of impressive statistics. In that category, though, it has been hard to argue with Romo’s success. He ranks fifth best all-time among NFL quarterbacks with a passer rating of 95.6 that is topped by only Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning…which is some pretty lofty company. Romo also holds the Dallas Cowboys franchise record for touchdowns, with 177.
As we look to the 2013 season, the pressure for the Cowboys to get over the hump and finally make a significant playoff run will be greater than it has in his Romo Coaster of a career in Dallas. Romo has led his team to memorable comeback wins and kept his team in countless other match ups with his uncanny ability to make a play where there seemingly is none. However, until he proves that he can lead the Cowboys deep into January, the most famous play in Romo’s career will always be that fumbled snap that sent the Cowboys home from the playoffs in that horrible loss against the Seattle Seahawks in 2006. In win or go home games in the 2011 and 2012 regular season finales, Romo shouldered the brunt of the blame for Cowboys losses to division rivals New York Giants and Washington Redskins, respectively, throwing an interception in the final three minutes to end a Dallas comeback bid at FedEx Field that would have made them 2012 division champs. Romo’s miscues aside, the elephant in the room in the Cowboys’ lack of post season success has to be the pitiful offensive line and defensive secondary play that has plagued Dallas in recent years.
With all that being said, a quick look around the league is all it takes to see that Dallas did the right thing in showing Romo the money. Aside from Alex Smith, the free agent market hasn’t exactly been teeming with quarterback prospects. While Dallas doesn’t have the aforementioned Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady at the helm, they aren’t facing the quarterback quandary of say, the New York Jets or Jacksonville Jaguars either. Romo is a capable quarterback, who, with a competent offensive line, has the tools and the teammates to lead the Cowboys back to playoff prominence. Dallas’ receiving corp seems to have finally found a viable alternative in Dwayne Harris. He, along with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin provide a formidable threat at wide-out, if they can stay healthy. Likewise for Dallas’ star running back, DeMarco Murray, who suffered from the injury bug in 2012.
The timing of getting Romo’s deal done couldn’t have been better, as it frees up $5 million cap money that will hopefully be used either in free agency or the upcoming draft to aid its ailing line and bring in additional defensive secondary help that will greatly improve the Cowboys chances in 2013. Under his previous deal, Romo was scheduled to count $16.8 million against the cap. His new contract reduces that amount to $11.8.
There is no question that Tony Romo will be facing huge expectations to play up to his capability and his contract in 2013. Hopefully he will prove his critics wrong by bringing the Dallas Cowboys back into serious Super Bowl contention and putting that fumbled snap back into the NFL archives where it belongs.