The Dallas Cowboys struck gold this past year with the emergence of Dak Prescott at quarterback, and now it is forcing them into a decision. Tony Romo had been the team’s “franchise quarterback,” but Prescott’s emergence as a significantly younger and cheaper option means the time has come to move on from Romo.
ESPN’s Ed Werder, a regular on the Cowboys beat, is reporting Romo expects to be released, and not traded. Werder tweeted that even though he turns 37 this offseason, Romo thinks he has two or three more seasons as a starter.
Romo is under contract through 2019, with cap hits of $24.7 million, $25.2 million, and $23.7 million the next three seasons. If the release him as a pre-June 1 cut OR trade him at any time before June 1, they would save $5.1 million, and carry $19.6 million in dead money. If they release him with the June 1 designation, they would clear $14 million in cap space, and carry $10.7 million in 2017 dead money, and $8.9 million in 2018 dead money.
The Cowboys currently are $12.93 million over the cap for 2017. They have time to do plenty of contract restructuring to make this work, and they will clear space when they move on from Romo. A June 1 designation would let him leave early, but the Cowboys would have to wait to get the cap space. If they have enough other contracts restructured to clear space, that would not be a huge issue.
The Cowboys have a long history with Romo, and would probably prefer to help him find a landing spot of his choosing. Of course, a deal is not always going to get done with that team. It worked out for the 49ers in 2013 when they traded Alex Smith, but it is not a simple process. If they can’t get something done and they want to do right by him, so to speak, a release would make sense.
It gets interesting though given how many teams would probably jump on the chance to acquire Tony Romo without giving up a draft pick. Acme Packing Company and Sports On Earth writer Jason Hirschhorn recently wrote about possible Romo landing spots.
The most interesting was his mention of Washington. Dallas would never trade him to a division rival, but if he was free and clear, maybe Washington makes a play. They currently have Kirk Cousins, but if they thought they could land Romo, maybe they trade Cousins or let him walk, and then move on to Romo. I don’t expect that to be how it plays out, but it would certainly be a curve ball in the coming quarterback market.