The day ended exactly the way it began for Tony Romo: On the Dallas Cowboys’ roster.
It was believed the Cowboys would follow what owner Jerry Jones called the “do-right rule” and release their longtime quarterback Thursday, allowing him to seek employment elsewhere. But two hours before the official start of free agency, word leaked from The Star that the Cowboys were trying to trade Romo.
The idea grew legs when the Houston Texans sent quarterback Brock Osweiler to the Cleveland Browns, clearing salary-cap room for the addition of Romo. But nothing happened Thursday involving Romo other than his posting a 39-second farewell video on social media just as free agency began.
“It’s been a crazy 48 hours here, and me and my family have felt the outpouring of support and love from all of you,” Romo said as Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ played in the background. “It’s been overwhelming, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. I wanted to say, ‘Thank you!’ We have a lot to think about here going forward, but we’ll see what happens.”
The Cowboys will part ways with the 14-year veteran, with only when and how left undecided.
If the Cowboys find a trade partner, they will take the full $19.6 million cap hit in 2017. If they release him, they could spread that hit over the 2017 and 2018 seasons by designating him a post-June 1 cut.
The Cowboys would pick up $14 million in cap space for the 2017 season with the post-June 1 designation. He would count $10.7 million against their cap this season and $8.9 million next season. However, the Cowboys would have to carry the full $24.7 million on their books until June 2.
The Cowboys could pick up $5.1 million in space immediately by releasing him without the post-June 1 designation. He would count $19.6 million in dead money this season.
Romo, who turns 37 in April, holds many of the team’s passing records. He ranks first in franchise history in passing yards (34,183), passer rating (97.1), 300-yard games (46), multi-touchdown games (79), 100-plus quarterback rating games (67) and career touchdowns (248).
But, unlike the two Hall of Fame quarterbacks who played in Dallas, Romo never delivered the Cowboys a Super Bowl. He went 2-4 in the postseason, never getting past the divisional round.
Houston and Denver, two teams that appear to be a quarterback away from Super Bowl contention, remain the frontrunners to secure Romo’s services. But reports from both cities suggest neither team is willing to give the Cowboys compensation. Instead, it appears the Texans and Broncos will bide their time to see if the Cowboys release Romo.
Romo hasn’t played a full season since 2012, missing a combined 21 games with injuries the past two seasons.
It was during Romo’s nine-week absence last season, recovering from a compression fracture in his back, that the Cowboys found Romo’s replacement. Romo played seven plays, driving 81 yards and throwing a touchdown in his only series, while rookie Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record.