Dallas Cowboys: Analyzing the Tony Romo Situation


The biggest story surrounding the Dallas Cowboys offseason will be where their longtime starting quarterback Tony Romo ends up.

The Dallas Cowboys season ended this past Sunday, with a gut-wrenching 34-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. While the offseason came later than it did last season, it still feels like it’s way too early after the regular season the Cowboys put together.

Looking toward the Spring and Summer, the story surrounding the team won’t be the progression of Ezekiel Elliott, or who they’ll take with the 28th overall pick, or even how they’ll follow up a 13-3 season. It’ll be Tony Romo.

It’s highly likely that we’ve seen the last of Romo in a Cowboys uniform. Statistically the best quarterback ever to play for the franchise has been usurped by Dak Prescott following his fantastic rookie season. Romo handled his demotion with grace, holding a press conference to ensure that he will not be a distraction to a team that at the time was riding high on an eight-game winning streak.

Romo took a backseat as Prescott led the team to the number one overall seed in the NFC Playoffs; and despite the occasional whispers for Romo to return anytime Prescott struggled, the coaching staff stuck to their guns and did not take the keys from the rookie.

It’s assumed that this will be Dak Prescott’s team for roughly the next decade, as he has shown all of the tools required to be a franchise quarterback and all of the poise it requires to fill that role for America’s Team. However in Monday’s season-ending press conference, head coach Jason Garrett was noncommittal when it came to Dak’s starting spot.

Before we as fans overreact to these comments, let’s take a moment to remember that Jason Garrett is a wizard when it comes to handling the media. He’s not going to tip his hand if he doesn’t need to. Had Garrett closed the door on any chance of Romo taking the starting spot from Prescott, the team loses any leverage in potential trade negotiations if/when they try to trade the veteran to a quarterback-needy team.

Which brings us to Romo’s trade value. Typically, 36-year old quarterbacks with large contracts are not hot trade commodities, but Romo is a unique case. While he still carries the “fragile” label, he showed he hasn’t lost a step in very limited action against Philadelphia in Week Seventeen. Paired with his résumé, and the fact that there are always quarterback-hungry teams in this league, the Cowboys should have no problem getting a pretty penny for their all-time leading passer.

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Teams like the Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, among others, should be in the market to improve the quarterback position, and could possibly call about acquiring Romo’s services. All of these teams would be immensely improved with Romo under center, but the Cowboys aren’t just going to give him away.

To get a rough estimate of what type of compensation we need to take a look at recent trades involving starting-caliber quarterbacks, as well as take an inventory of the quarterback market. Look no further than last summer to find an example of a quarterback-desperate team overpaying for a starter.

The Minnesota Vikings shipped a first round pick and a second conditional draft pick to Philadelphia to see if Sam Bradford was the answer at the quarterback position. While Bradford had arguably a career year in 2016, he didn’t have nearly the body of work heading into the trade that Romo boasts. The age of the two does make a difference, with Bradford being 28 at the time he was traded, and Romo set to celebrate his 37th birthday this April.

Going further back, legendary quarterback Brett Favre only yielded a single conditional pick when the Packers sent him to the Jets. New York had many of the same concerns about Favre as teams may have about Romo: age and injury.  Every move in the NFL is different. And when it comes to what the Cowboys can expect to receive for Romo, look for something in between the those two deals.

Quarterback is by far the most important position on the football field, and there will be desperate teams out there looking for an elite signal-caller. The market may be slim, especially should the Bears hold onto Jay Cutler and the Redskins lock-up Kirk Cousins long-term. If a team believes they’re a quarterback away, the Cowboys may be able to net a second or third-round pick in return for Romo.

Next: Ranking Tony Romo’s Best Seasons In Dallas

However, if that market doesn’t develop, watch for the Cowboys to designate Romo as a post-June 1 cut, allowing them to spread the cap hit over two seasons. Regardless of where Romo ends up, look for the Cowboys to keep his best interests at heart, it’s not lost on the front office, coaching staff, or any players what number 9 did for this organization for the past decade. The least they can do is send him someplace where he can get that Super Bowl that has continued to elude him.