Now that the Dallas Cowboys season is over, the biggest issue for the franchise heading into the offseason is what’s going to happen with Tony Romo. The quarterback position is taken; Dak Prescott is the Cowboys QB for the foreseeable future, and as much as Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett love Romo, he’s not going to be an 8-figure backup. The Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills are already waiting for the opportunity to offer the Cowboys something for him.
The Cowboys need to figure out what to do with him, and they don’t have a whole lot of leverage because of Romo’s contract. He comes with a $24.7 million cap hit in 2017, and cutting him would only save about $5.1 million for Dallas. This means they can’t extort teams to give up too much for him. Things change quickly in the NFL, and from the untouchable franchise quarterback Romo is suddenly being shown the way outside, only it’s not that simple. No one is going to bench Prescott after the rookie season he had, and Romo has pretty much conceded that the job he held on to for a decade (when he wasn’t injured) is no longer is, but seeing Romo play for someone else is probably going to be a surreal experience at first.
But assuming the Cowboys do find a way to make a deal happen, the most fitting place for Romo, who we assume is mostly after a chance to reach the Super Bowl and not just playing time and snaps, is Denver. The Broncos got burnt badly by trying their no-quarterback, elite-defense approach this season. From Super Bowl champions to missing the playoffs, as Trevor Siemian couldn’t really provide consistent quality through the season, while the defense regressed in 2016. Paxton Lynch might be the quarterback of the future for Denver, but he isn’t the one who’ll start for them right now.
As far as quarterback-needy teams go, the Broncos seem like the only ones that might be one good quarterback away from bouncing back. A healthy Romo is still a very good quarterback and who knows, maybe almost a full season without playing did him a lot of good from a physical standpoint. And if he does get injured again, Siemian isn’t a bad backup to have at all. As for the costs, Romo might be willing to take a serious pay cut in order to play for Denver.
The other teams waiting for the Romo situation to clear up aren’t that ready to be contenders right away. The Bills are probably the closest thing to it, but there’s always a lot of uncertainty surrounding the team. The Bears aren’t that bad of a team without all the injuries that plagued the team this season, but putting Romo behind a questionable offensive line is asking for trouble. And the New York Jets would love to keep their young quarterbacks off the field for one more season, but this season proved that this team is more than just one good piece away from returning to the playoffs.
Unless something shocking happens in the next few months, the dream Romo and a lot of Cowboys fans had of seeing him lead this team to the Super Bowl one day isn’t going to come true. Those expectations (and some would say burden) have been passed on to Prescott. Romo, who’ll turn 37 in April and has only five games over the last two seasons (this year was just four passes), will try and achieve that goal donning a different uniform.