March 19, 2013

Jones says big payday, bigger expectations on horizon for Romo

Jerry Jones says the Cowboys are close to getting a deal done with their quarterback.

Concerned about a contract extension for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo?

Don’t be.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not worried about it. Of course, he has inside information.

Sitting in a meeting room at the luxurious Biltmore Hotel, built in 1929 with the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright as a consulting architect, Jones not only hinted a deal with Romo is coming soon but that he will get a contract worthy of the millionaire guests occupying the hotel this week for the NFL owners meetings.

“Probably what concerns them about a timetable is the fact that they don’t know that it won’t be weeks out,” Jones said of Cowboys fans being nervous of a Romo deal getting done. “They don’t know that. I have a better feel for it than that. We are involved in negotiations. It’s just not the thing to do for him or me to say we ought to have something done by midnight or tomorrow unless it’s that imminent.”

Jones reflected on his statement following the 35-minute interview with local reporters and realized that he indicated a Romo deal was close, and he added that “I’m OK with [saying] that.”

Romo is in the final year of his contract and has a $16.8 million cap figure for 2013. The Cowboys have just under $100,000 in cap room under the 2013 salary cap of $123 million.

They need to sign Romo to a long-term contract extension to reduce his cap hit in order to sign other players in free agency as well as sign their upcoming draft class.

The six-year, $120.6 million contract Joe Flacco recently signed with the Baltimore Ravens is considered a guide for Romo’s impending deal.

Jones wouldn’t get into the money. But he said Romo is expected to be a big part of the Cowboys offense going forward, and his contract will reflect that.

“Romo, of course, is someone that I expect our staff, our offensive staff, to deploy Romo according to his pay scale,” Jones said. “Stay tuned, but he’s going to have high expectations, I promise you that. He is not going to be paid to be a bus driver.”

More to the point, Jones said the charge for the coaches this off-season is to take the offense from “Romo friendly” to “Romo better.”

Considering that Romo attempted more passes the past two years combined than any quarterback in Cowboys history, he is already the biggest part of the offense.

But Jones said they need to find a better and more efficient way to use Romo’s skills because the Cowboys have nothing to show for his current usage in terms of playoff success.

“He has had some success with [the offense],” Jones said. “But it hasn’t got us where we want to go. So the changeup is how do we use him better? Have we maximized everything that he is about to get it done? Those are the challenges we’ve got in the off-season.”

Jones acknowledged that the offense might have grown stale under coach Jason Garrett and is counting on the added influence of offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan to allow the Cowboys to get the most of Romo’s unique improvisational skills.

It’s a must schematically because of the financial commitment Jones is making.

“If we don’t utilize that and [Romo] is just a step off of or just two steps ahead of what the next guy can do, then it’s a misuse of that resource,” Jones said. “He has got to have that prominent role of what we are doing because he has got that prominent role in what we are doing financially.”

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