Virtually every single story insisting on or even suggesting knowledge of Tony Romo’s 2017 plans has been premature, in part because they pre-dated any planning meeting between the veteran quarterback and the Jones family. ... and in part because Romo himself says they're premature.
There are stories that Romo wants to "stick it'' to the Cowboys.
There are stories that Romo has "narrowed his choices'' to four new teams ... when in fact he isn't yet 100-percent certain he'll play in 2017.
Oh, and there are stories that he IS 100-percent certain he'll play in 2017.
All of these were peculiarly premature ... Until last Wednesday, that is, when there was actual movement that we can report: NFL sources tell our Mike Fisher, reporting on 105.3 The Fan, that Romo was at The Star in Frisco last Wednesday and that he most probably met with both Jerry and Stephen Jones about the future.
But beyond that? Fish, and CHQ, co-sign our colleague Ben Rogers' 105.3 The Fan report:
News stories from a week ago trumpeting Romo’s “desired destination’’ are not accurate, one source tells us, because as of that time he simply hadn’t taken the time to investigate the benefits and pitfalls of various NFL landing spots beyond Dallas. News stories suggesting his “priorities’’ are also wrong-headed, especially if the suggestions include a wish to “stick it to the Cowboys’’ by signing on with a team that has Dallas on its 2017. (That may happen, of course; some of the teams that could use Romo's services are on the Cowboys' schedule and if they play, Romo will obviously prefer to win. And maybe he'll want to "stick it'' to anybody who picked Dak over him. So, Jason Garrett, watch out!)
But etched-in-stone, definitive stuff?
“It simply hasn’t gotten that far yet,’’ says one person close to the situation who reminds that a Romo retirement — and the acceptance of a lucrative TV network job as an analyst — remains in play. And yes, we say that even as ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting otherwise. And we do so because if the fit of a future team isn't right, we don't see Romo shrugging his shoulders and saying, "Oh, well, OK, I guess I'll go to Cleveland.''
Late in the season, when Romo issued his emotional concession speech, paving the way for Dak Prescott to serve as Romo’s replacement without conflict — the 37-year-old indicated he’d like to continue to compete in the NFL.
Fish reports that Romo has TV offers waiting. And maybe they'll have to wait, as we reflect back on Tony's own words.
“Seasons are fleeting, games become more precious, chances for success diminish,’’ Romo said in his prepared statement. “Your potential successor’s arrived. Injured two years in a row, and now in your mid-30’s. The press is whispering, everyone has doubts, you spent your career to get here. Now we have to start all over …’’
And while it’s almost certain that Romo “starts all over’’ employed by someone besides Dallas, it’s simply too early to know how it will occur ... if it comes by virtue of a Cowboys trade or a Cowboys release.
Romo is scheduled to count $24.7 million against the 2017 cap. That includes his base salary of $14 million (which in a trade would be taken on his his new team) and his prorated bonuses equalling another $10.7 million (which the Cowboys cap would have to absorb). The Cowboys cap would also remain responsible for Romo’s prorated bonus amounts for 2018 and 2019, which total $8.9 million more.
Add it up, and Romo has $19.6 million remaining in bonuses that must be accounted for. If he is traded or retires, that total accelerates onto the 2017 books — which actually creates a savings of $5 million of cap space. This scenario also erases the $25.2 million owed the 2018 cap, and the $23.7 million of owed the 2019 cap.
In the event of a June 1 release (allowing Romo to retire or to cut his own deal elsewhere), the $19.6 million of cap obligation can be split between 2017 and 2018.
Romo’s new team can take on his existing $14 million in salary (if traded) or can negotiate a new deal with him no matter how he’s acquired. There has been speculation about what the Broncos and Texans and Chiefs and Cardinals and Jets might want to do. But even much of that is premature. Those teams, like the Cowboys, need staff meetings featuring management, coaches and personnel people. In the case of the Cowboys, the coaches have off until Tuesday, the personnel people are continuing to do their pro and college evaluations, and the Joneses were about to engage in a busy Super Bowl weekend that featured Jerry Jones' Hall-of-Fame nod. ... But then came Wednesday.
We believe that in the "Come-To-Joneses'' meeting, Jerry expressed his Jerry Poppins desire for Tony to remain with the Cowboys, an idea that no one but the owner thinks is a good one. And then there were likely hugs and handshakes and looks forward. The Scouting Combine starts Feb. 28. The start of the NFL business year is March 9. Then is when major decisions, for the Cowboys, all the other teams, and Tony Romo, will fully crystallize.