March 29, 2013

Cowboys secure Romo with six-year deal

The quarterback’s contract is worth $108 million, making him the highest-paid player in franchise history.

Tony Romo received Joe Flacco-type money. Now, the Dallas Cowboys are hoping their quarterback can deliver a Super Bowl as the Baltimore Ravens quarterback did in February.

The Dallas Cowboys signed Romo to a six-year, $108 million extension, with $55 million guaranteed. He received a $25 million signing bonus and will receive $57 million in the first three years of the deal.

It makes Romo the highest-paid player in franchise history and has him under contract with the Cowboys through 2019.

“I want to thank the entire Jones family for believing and trusting in me to finish my career as a Dallas Cowboy,” Romo said in a statement after signing the deal at Valley Ranch. “There will be no greater reward, besides winning a Super Bowl, than playing my entire career as a Dallas Cowboy.

“…I am excited that ownership and the organization believes in me to get this job done. Our goal is the Super Bowl and I am determined and honored to be the guy in this position to help our team do that.”

Flacco recently signed a six-year, $120.6 million deal, with $52 million guaranteed. Romo’s agent, R.J. Gonser, and team officials had used Flacco’s deal as a guide.

Romo’s contract extension will lower his $16.8 million salary-cap hit for 2013 to $11.8 million. The Cowboys had less than $25,000 in cap space after linebacker Justin Durant and safety Will Allen agreed to terms this week.

Romo’s deal frees the Cowboys to get back into the free-agency market. The Cowboys could create even more space by signing linebacker Anthony Spencer to a long-term deal. As a franchise player, Spencer currently counts $10.6 million against the Cowboys’ cap.

The Cowboys were hopeful they could get a new deal with Romo before last season, but Romo nixed talks once the season began.

Dallas would not have been able to franchise Romo before he became a free agent in 2014 because the final three years of his deal weren’t voidable until after the franchise-tag window closes. Romo signed a six-year, $67 million deal in 2007 and was scheduled to make a base salary of $11.5 million in 2013.

Romo, who turns 33 next month, was an undrafted free agent. He signed with the Cowboys out of Eastern Illinois, spurning the Broncos’ offer of a $20,000 signing bonus for the $10,000 the Cowboys offered.

Romo ranks first in team history in completion percentage (64.7) and touchdown passes (177). He is second in career attempts (3,240) and completions (2,097).

“The organization made it clear to us the past couple of years that Tony was their long-term franchise quarterback, and Tony made it clear to us that he would never play for another organization and that he wanted to finish his career as a Dallas Cowboy,” Gonser, Romo’s agent, said.

“Once you have that, you figure it out. Obviously, every negotiation takes its own path, and you have to go through the process. But never was there any doubt in our mind, Tony’s mind, and I’m guessing the Cowboys’ minds, that we could get this done.”

Though he is 55-38 as a starter since taking over for Drew Bledsoe in the middle of the 2006 season, Romo is only 17-21 the past three seasons combined. He also has only one career playoff victory, going 1-3 in postseason. The Cowboys have not made the playoffs since 2009.

Still, the Cowboys have great faith in Romo, believing he is their quarterback of not only the present but the future.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has $57 million in guarantees, the largest amount in NFL history. Romo has tied New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees for second most.

Only six players in NFL history have had deals with a maximum value more than Romo’s $108 million.

Aaron Rodgers, though, is negotiating an extension with the Green Bay Packers that could trump them all.

Brady, Brees and Rodgers all have won Super Bowls.

“Tony is uniquely qualified to lead this team at the quarterback position for the next several years,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. “He has an abundance of experience and familiarity with our offensive philosophy, our head coach and the personnel around him. He is moving into a period of time where he can maximize all of his natural skills while continuing to build upon the talents that he has developed since entering the NFL.

“He has a proven-veteran-quarterback grasp of the intellectual side of the game. He knows how to run an offense and run a team. He knows how to win games and has done it in a lot of different settings and under a lot of difficult circumstances.

“…In today’s game, every NFL franchise understands the importance of production and continuity at the quarterback position, and, historically, few franchises have enjoyed those benefits more than the Dallas Cowboys. We are very confident in this investment and commitment.”

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