“We’ve been here all week and (Tony Romo’s) name never came up,’’ Denver Broncos boss John Elway said on Sunday afternoon in Arizona, as quoted by Denver reporter Mike Klis.
If true, that would seem to put the kibosh on the idea of the the Dallas Cowboys trading QB Romo to the Broncos. The comment is meant to suggest that not only has Elway been in Arizona for the NFL Owners Meetings, but that so have Cowboys execs, obviously including Stephen Jones, the Cowboys COO who serves with Elway on the league’ Competition Committee, which conducted meetings in Arizona last week.
If true, that would mean Denver is still waiting for Romo to get cut before it pursues him, if it pursues him at all. It means the Joneses would need to turn to the Houston Texans (and whomever else) to try to forge a trade before finally giving up and freeing Romo to join Houston, or another team, or a non-NFL employer — like a national TV network.
But … is it true?
Sources involved in the Romo saga told me last Thursday that this weekend’s start to the NFL Owners Meetings might bring the drama to an end, in one form or another. Why was “this weekend’’ a pinpointed time?
Maybe that’s because that’s when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — who is as hands-on with the Romo project as he’s been on anything in recent years — wasn’t scheduled to be in Arizona until Sunday.
So while Elway may have been face-to-face with Stephen at different points of last week, he (and Texans GM Rick Smith) haven’t been face-to-face with the Cowboys ultimate “decider.’’ Furthermore, I believe Stephen Jones spent some time at The Star In Frisco last week ... so he wasn't in Arizona "all week'' at all.
On Friday came some buzz regarding the idea of the Broncos (or whomever), having succeeded at this waiting game of chicken with the Joneses, coming forward with a less-than-premium offer. If Dallas is faced with the lone option of releasing Romo (something owner Jerry promised him back on March 8), might it be open-minded to accepting a late-round pick for the soon-to-be 37-year-old standout QB?
Romo's prospective new teams, including Denver, have long indicated (to me and others) an unwillingness to take on his existing contract, which pays him $14 million in 2017. In a potential swap, not only might the Cowboys have to accept a low-offer — Romo might have to accept one, also, in the form of a smaller base salary featuring roster bonuses and performance incentives. (I would suggest that Elway’s “no meeting’’ revelation is simply part of the ongoing poker game between the Cowboys and any Romo suitors.)
Romo being given his outright release by the Cowboys remains in play, of course; Dallas will net $5 .1 million of room if he is released, traded or retired, and $14 million of room if he is designated as a post-June 1 cut.
A retirement in some form? I reported on November 16 here and on 105.3 The Fan the since-oft-regurgitated "scoop" regarding Romo being in receipt of interest from all the football networks, including ESPN and CBS. (I noted then Romo's friendship with Jim Nantz and how it could logically lead to him telecasting football and golf.)
Romo's situation remains fluid, with only the dreamily romantic (but realistically tumultuous) notion of him staying in Dallas to compete with Dak Prescott as a no-go.
I sense the organization knows it is on the verge of turmoil if it sits on this too long.
So, quite possibly, after there are true face-to-face opportunities in Arizona, both sides will realize - via trade talk or retirement talk - that the Good-Cop/Bad-Cop Mexican Standoff must end, that the game of poker has been unproductive, that "too long" has arrived. But there wasn’t going to be an arrival to the transaction wire of Tony Romo until there was an arrival to Arizona of Jerry Jones. And contrary to Elway’s suggestion, the full Jones presence wasn’t “here all week.’’
It just got there.