Tony Romo’s In The Driver’s Seat


Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) smiles prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboy’s QB, Tony Romo, discontinued contract negotiations during last season because he didn’t want the distraction.  He wanted to concentrate on the games and his performance.  The contract talks could wait til the season was over and see how everything shakes out. Well, we know how the how that turned out.

Had the season – or specifically the last game – turned out differently for Romo and the Cowboys,  we would be talking here about how big Romo’s contract was going to be.  How close to Brady or Manning money would he get?

Alas, things didn’t go as planned, as most often happens (particularly with our Cowboys) in football as in life.  Oh well, better luck next year.  For Romo, though, in regards to his contract and even his NFL career, he’s still in the driver’s seat.

Gone, of course, is the mega contract extension.  Romo is still in the 12 to 16 million a year range, but the Manning money is off the table – he did that to himself with not just a little help from Cowboy’s head coach, Jason Garrett’s vanilla, predictable offensive scheme (I can picture the entire Romo family together saying, “thanks Garrett!” in unison).

Dec 11, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) meets with owner Jerry Jones prior to the game against the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

But does missing out on, or going after in the first place, that mega deal what motivates Tony?  It doesn’t seem so.  He’s a competitive guy when it comes to sports.  Whether it’s football, or golf or a pick up game of basketball, Romo loves to compete.  More than anything, IMO, that is what motivates Romo.

This, and for a couple other reasons, is why I think Tony Romo is still in the drivers seat.

For owners, the reality of the ‘cap’ ruled NFL today is  that, all things being equal, can I afford it?  Specifically, for the Dallas Cowboys, they can’t afford much.  The Cowboys have just a couple options when it comes to Romo’s contract, and just a few more when it comes to their QB position.

Even if the Cowboys plan on letting outside linebacker, Anthony Spencer, walk, they still need to rework Romo’s contract.  Romo’s current contract has him making $11.5 million base salary plus over $5.3 million in bonuses.  If the Cowboys do nothing, that’s a $16.8 million+ hit on there cap, leaving them little room to work without cutting important players just to dump their salaries.  Bottom line, the Cowboys have to make Tony Romo’s  contract their number one priority,  even above that of re-signing Anthony Spencer.

Romo kinda has them over a barrel now.  Had he worked out a contract during last season, they would probably still have to rework it to get under this year’s estimated $121 million cap.

Another example why money is not Tony Romo’s motivation, he has always been very accommodating with the Cowboys in restructuring his contract every year to give the team cap space to operate.

What if this year he wasn’t so accommodating?  That’s not like Tony, you say?.  He’s a nice guy, right?

Tony Romo popped up on Forbe’s list of most disliked athletes this year.  Not because he killed dogs for sport (guess who) or used PED’s and lied about it for years (guess who).  Not even because he’s dirty player (Suh) or has a bad attitude or comes off aloof or arrogant (Cutler).  And certainly not because his best friend and all around great guy, Jason Witten, who just won the Walter Payton Award, basically the NFL version of the Nobel Prize, thinks the world of Tony.

No, the only thing that makes sense – and therefore doesn’t make any sense at all to land on this list – is that CowboysNation’s fickle fans dislike him for not bringing another Lombardy Trophy back to Dallas.  If he landed on the list because fellow athletes don’t like him, they all must secretly have rooted for him since he was an undrafted free agent and replaced Drew Bledsoe as the Cowboy’s starter and are dissapointed in him, again, for not bringing a Lombardy Trophy to Dallas and becoming one of the best QBs in NFL history. Nothing else makes sense.

Regardless of the complete disrespect that Romo gets from inside and outside of the Cowboys circle,  most of us, and many of the haters as well, would have a collective heart attack if Romo was suddenly gone from the team.  That, and the fact that Cowboy’s owner, Jerry Jones and his defacto GM, Stephen Jones, love Tony.  That all works in Romo’s favor.

The diss’ed Dallas Cowboy’s QB scenario seems somewhat familiar if you go back to the early years of the Cowboys.  Another Cowboy’s QB, ‘Dandy’ Don Meredith was also loved yet sometimes booed by a fickle CowboysNation.  It wore on him.  Meredith played hurt for his team, helped them become relevant, but didn’t bring a championship to Dallas.  Sound familiar?  He chose to walk away while still in the last years of his prime.  Tony Romo, experiencing some of the same things,  could do the same.

Romo is in the driver’s seat because, though it’s not like him, and it’s not what motivates him, if he wants to he could make life hard for Dallas.  He could hold their feet to the fire financially, or he could let them restructure his contract yet again.  Romo could also demand a trade or play out his contract and walk away, maybe even walk away now.

In those last three scenarios, even with all Romo’s detractors and haters and apparent, disapproving peers, I wonder how many would line up to get Romo on their team if he became available?  I’m betting quite a few.