Decisions, Decisions

Upstart quarterback Tony Romo wants a new deal -- the sooner the better. As owner Jerry Jones once said about linebacker Greg Ellis' contract demands, we all want more money.

The difference between Romo and Ellis is that Romo's future is in front of him, not behind him. He is a developing player who should only get better.

And while there is no question the Cowboys believe Romo has the potential to be their long-term answer at the position, the question they must answer is: do they pay Romo now or wait until he realizes his potential before putting the big money in front of him?

Romo has one year left on his contract and has already gone on record saying he wants an extension before the start of the 2007 season. The Cowboys are at least considering the option, as they have traded conversations with Romo's agent, Tom Condon.

The biggest obstacle is determining how much Romo is worth. He was a Pro Bowler last season and gave the team new life after taking over for the immobile Drew Bledsoe. But after winning five of his first six starts, Romo lost three of four to end the regular season and then commenced to lose the wild-card game against the Seahawks.

Romo's play was reflective of the team's results. He was great early but struggled late when it seems the opponents figured him out. Still, there was enough in what Romo did to indicate he will develop into a consistent starter for the Cowboys.

It could be financially shrewd for the Cowboys to sign Romo before the season. Unless Romo is a complete failure, signing him before the season should present a huge discount vs. what Romo would receive at the end of the season.

So don't be surprised if the Cowboys do get something done.

OTHER NOTES: SS Keith Davis was one of four Cowboys to take advantage of the NFL's continuing education program. Davis spent a week of intensive study at Northwestern. Linebacker Akin Ayodele attended Harvard. Safety Akin Ayodele attended Northwestern, while former linebacker Al Singleton attended Wharton School of Business.

Considering Davis' past offseasons have involved Davis twice being the victim of gunshot wounds, it was a nice change for the safety.

"It's something my agent and I decided would be good for me," Davis said.

"I have already ventured out into a couple of businesses. I own my own Metro PCS company. I have a real estate company and a building company. It was real helpful for me to go up there and learn as much as I can about the business world. I am excited about it."

* LB Anthony Spencer may or may not be the starter when the season opens. The rookie top pick has worked with the first team since his arrival in Dallas because starter Greg Ellis is rehabbing a torn left Achilles. This is the same Ellis who has asked for a new contract or to be released because of the presence of Spencer. Ellis believes the Cowboys drafted Spencer to replace him. It has all made quite a welcome to the NFL for Spencer. He said he understands Ellis' situation but appreciates that Ellis has still taken time to help him adjust to the defense and the NFL.

"Greg has really helped me," Spencer said. "He gives me a lot of good tips on what to do in certain situations. He knows where I'm coming from and the things I need to do to get better. He's probably the person I talk to the most because I sit right behind him in meetings. So whenever I have a question about what happened out on the field, I go to him and he's always telling me what I'm doing right or wrong."

Spencer is respectful of Ellis and his situation but also doesn't deny that he would like to be a starter. Still he will do whatever the Cowboys ask of him.

"I think everyone wants to start," Spencer said. "You want to play and go out there and make things happen. That's what I hope, too. But if I end up starting or playing in other packages, that's fine, too. Right now, I just want to get better."

What's true is that the Cowboys are better with Ellis, Spencer and linebacker DeMarcus Ware getting after the quarterback together or in a rotation. Last year proved that they need more than two pass rushers.

* QB Tony Romo, when pressed, will say he appreciates life without Bill Parcells. There is a lot less screaming. But Romo says he truly appreciates everything Parcells did for him and readily acknowledges he would not be the quarterback of the Cowboys if not for Parcells' faith, tough love and tutelage.

"I think the time I spent with Bill helped a lot," Romo said. "I wouldn't want my career to have started off any different now that I look back. When I look at what I learned from Bill I wouldn't have wanted to be under another coach. I will take things I learned from him that will stay with me for the rest of my career. I don't think life without Bill will be as difficult. But he taught me a lot and I learned a lot."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a trap sometimes when you talk about Wade Phillips being relaxed. Wade is a straight shooter. He is going to tell it to you the way it is. Bill Parcells is the same way except he will do it more times and confrontationally. Wade will just tell it to you." -- Quarterback Tony Romo on the difference between Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips.

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