While there are still four teams left competing for the Super Bowl, the offseason began for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. Even before that, speculation had been rampant about what they will do with Tony Romo.
Obviously, there are three options: Keep, Cut, or Trade.
Releasing Romo would be untenable. If they do that now, there would be $19.6 million in dead cap space, so they’d only be saving about $5 million on the cap, and they’d be getting rid of the most talented backup in the league for that privilege.
My boss, Jason McIntyre, has advocated a trade. He believes Kansas City, stuck in Alex Smith purgatory, would be a solid destination. McIntyre reasons that there are a lot of holes on the Cowboys defense, and that if they’re able to trade Romo then they can go make a splash to fortify that unit in free agency.
McIntyre also presents restructuring Romo’s contract as a possibility. I don’t know whether or not Romo would be inclined to do this. It’s presumable that, as a competitive person, he wants to be a starter. Would he agree to a pay cut and be a backup? If he would, that would be a big bonus for Dallas.
It’s tough to know what value Romo would have on the trade market. On one hand, you could say that unloading his contract is all the value the Cowboys need in return. There could well be some QB-desperate teams out there that would be willing to pay him what he’s owed, and pray to their deities that he can somehow remain healthy.
However, my belief is that the Cowboys should keep Romo. Dak Prescott is at such a discount as a fourth-round pick on a rookie contract that even with Romo’s base salary set to rise to $14 million next year Dallas does not have a prohibitive amount of money tied up in the quarterback position.
There is no question that Dak Prescott is the future of the Cowboys, and that he would be the starter on Opening Day next season. But, it would be advisable for the Cowboys to have insurance against either injury or the scenario where the film catches up to him and there is a drop-off in play.
Colin Kaepernick and RG3 had stretches where they looked like they would totally redefine what the quarterback position is capable of, but the film caught up with them and/or health issues popped up and now both of them are nearing the fringe of whether they are worth employing in the league.
I’m not saying that Dak Prescott will face similar issues, but the Cowboys saw what happened two years ago when Romo went down and they were saddled with Mark Sanchez and Brandon Weeden. Moreover, having Romo there as tacit competition would light a proverbial fire under Dak that he has to perform week in and week out lest Jerry Jones re-insert Romo at QB.
Reasonable minds can differ, but it’s my opinion that the Cowboys would be better off keeping Tony Romo.