Tony Romo To Dallas Cowboys: Break Cap For A Run


Think how this must feel for Tony Romo: The Dallas Cowboys were good enough to win the Super Bowl in 2014.

The soon-to-be 35-year-old quarterback knows his team nearly notched a divisional round win against the Packers, despite a number of crushing breaks going Green Bay’s way. He also knows the Cowboys could have beat the Seahawks in Seattle because, well, they already had.

Once in the big game against New England, there’s no reason to think the same brand of relentless, physical football wouldn’t have worked against the Patriots. One thing we all know for sure: Head coach Jason Garrett isn’t trotting out 11 personnel on second-and-goal from the 2-yard line in the waning seconds of the game. He’s going big, and there’s no secret who’s getting the ball. Three times, if necessary.

A brilliant and improbable career would have been capped with a ring, thus forever shielding Romo from the slings and arrows of outrageous morons. Instead, it was more tragedy befitting the bard. Instead, it’s another offseason of building and preparation. Instead, it’s another grueling 16-game slog – all for just for a shot to get hot at the right time.

After a cracked spine, two back surgeries, and three straight 8-8s, that’s gotta sting.

So it’s no surprise Romo is rallying Cowboys owner Jerry Jones with a Win-Now war cry. In a recent Todd Archer post over at ESPN, Jones recalls Romo’s sales pitch, given inside the Cowboys’ luxury bus after the NFL Honors ceremony the night before Super Bowl XLIX:

"“Jerry, see Stephen, he’s got himself about 25-30 years of this ahead. Jason, coach, maybe something similar to that,” Jones remembers Romo saying. “Me, I’m three to five. You’re three to five. We got to stick together. It’s now for us.”"

Translated: Cap, Schmap. Blow it up if you have to and let’s you and me go get us a ring.

Man, you gotta love this guy. If he weren’t so terrific as the quarterback of America’s Team, Romo would make a hell of a player agent, or politician, or foreign ambassador, or car salesman. It’s all roughly the same skill set.

So it’s Romo and Jerry versus Executive Vice President Stephen Jones and Garrett. Roll the dice to win now at all costs versus build something sustainable and compete for the next decade. Which organizational philosophy will win out? Which are you rooting for? Which has resulted in multiple rings for the Ravens? And the Steelers? And the Giants? And the Patriots?

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XFL announcer completely trashes Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo (Video)
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  • Jones, Garrett, and assistant director of player personnel Will McClay have done a masterful job in turning this franchise around. They’ve done it by replacing a culture of entitlement with one of competition and accountability. They’ve done it by finding talent in the draft and developing it well. And they’ve done it by making ruthless decisions with regard to veteran personnel.

    Romo fans see his age and injury history, and agree the best course of action is to blow it up and go all-in with high-priced free agents. But there are no guarantees. The biggest Day 1 free agent shopper a year ago was the Denver Broncos. They were so close in 2013, and their aging All Pro quarterback had a shrinking window. To hell with 2015 and beyond – Denver went all-in for 2014, and was crowned the big winner of free agency. The front office was lauded for its aggressiveness. Nine months later they were one-and-done in the playoffs and staring at cap purgatory.

    The Cowboys, on the other hand, were good enough to win it all in 2014: When they refused to swallow certain dead money by retaining their two best defensive linemen. When they didn’t sacrifice future caps by restructuring the contracts of aging, high-priced veterans like tight end Jason Witten and cornerback Brandon Carr. When they kept their hands in their pockets on Day 1 of free agency, and found value on the cheap in guys like defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Terrell McClain.

    In short, the Cowboys were a break or two away from hoisting the Lombardi when they built smart.

    This player personnel department has shown it can identify talent in the draft and in free agency. This coaching staff has shown that it can develop that talent to excel within its offensive and defensive schemes. If a franchise is great at talent evaluation and player development, it doesn’t need to blow up the cap to win a Super Bowl.

    I’ve never put much stock in the whole Romo-Is-A-Loser meme. Anyone with an IQ higher than a glass of water knows wins are a team stat. Spraying “Romo Is A Loser” into everyone’s twitter feed says more about you than it does about Romo. But here’s hoping Romo loses this one, and the Cowboys continue to build their organization the smart way.