For about the last 6 or 8 weeks, one of the “go-to topics” for sports radio and/or studio analyst discussion on TV was this:
- Should Dak Prescott keep the Cowboys’ QB job once Tony Romo is healthy?
The two sides of that “debate” never really varied from some tried and true lines of “reasoning”:
- A player should not lose his job due to an injury.
- A winner on the field should stay on the field – the Tom Brady/Drew Bledsoe outcome.
All that was at least marginally interesting for the first half-dozen times I had to listen to it but it did start to wear thin quickly and then it became rather annoying for the next 500 times I heard it. Now that the “fundamental question” has been resolved by the Cowboys, I believe there is a very real “existential” question that should be considered – and was not considered in any of the “debates” I heard previously:
- Given that the Cowboys will owe Tony Romo $14M as a base salary in 2017 and that his salary cap hit will be approximately $24-25M, can the Cowboys afford to pay that kind of money for a backup QB?
At first blush, the answer seems obvious; how can any team spend about 15% of its salary cap money on a backup player at any position? Well, the Cowboys have enough young players that they were able to fit everyone in under this year’s cap with Tony Romo sucking down a similar percentage and what he has given the team so far is exactly what a backup QB would be expected to give to the team. Rather than speculating on whether or how the capologists in Dallas will juggle the numbers, I prefer to ask a different question because it deals with football and not with bookkeeping:
If – I said IF – the Cowboys were to decide to release Tony Romo and suffer the consequences of the “dead money” that his release would engender, whither Tony Romo?
Obviously, he could choose to retire from the NFL. I am not authoritative when it comes to unraveling the intricacies of NFL contracts and bonuses and cap hits and the like but my calculations say that Tony Romo will have earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $115M over the course of his career with the Cowboys at the end of the 2016 season. Absent a terminal case of financial blockheadedness, that ought to mean that Tony Romo and his family should be financially secure for life; he should not be worrying a lot about how much his Social Security check will be about 30 years hence.
But suppose he wants to continue to play QB in the NFL and he is a free agent who can go wherever he wants. I am now going to engage in mind-reading and as I have certified many times in the past, I have exactly no skills in that area. In actuality, this is nothing more than a pro football version of omphaloskepsis. I would not imagine that Tony Romo at age 36 would be interested in going to a team on the skids right now to be part of a 5-year program to rebuild a franchise. Translation: I do not see him in a Cleveland Browns’ uniform or a SF Niners’ uniform. I also think you can strike a line through any team that has either a Pro Bowl QB as a starter now or a team that has committed to a young QB already. Translation: I do not see him in a Detroit Lions’ uniform or an Atlanta Falcons’ uniform AND I do not see him in a Philadelphia Eagles’ uniform or an Oakland Raiders’ uniform.
I can imagine him playing for a team where as a starter he might represent an upgrade at QB for a team that has lots of strengths in areas of the game. Who might those teams be?
Arizona Cardinals – I think Carson Palmer is going downhill rapidly.
Denver Broncos – Siemian is not the long-term answer. Paxton Lynch is a question mark.
Houston Texans – might they have a giant case of buyer’s remorse already?
KC Chiefs – the longest shot of the teams on the board here
LA Rams – good defense, good running back, mediocre quarterbacks on the roster.
Minnesota Vikings – Bradford is signed only thru 2017
NY Jets – do not think I need explain any further here.
My point here is that if the Cowboys and Tony Romo decide to “go in different directions” come next Spring and if the Cowboys wish Tony Romo the “best of luck in his future endeavors”, there is about 20% of the NFL out there where he might fit in as a starting QB who could have a significantly positive impact on team fortunes.
Tony Romo lost his starting job in Dallas. What might be next if he loses his clipboard holding job in Dallas?
Finally, here is a word from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“English golfer Ian Poulter, in fit of pique, took a club and whacked his bag a few times — shattering not only his cellphone, but his caddie’s, too.
“That was certainly uncalled for.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………