Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo walked through the locker room on Thursday afternoon wearing a T-shirt that had one word in all caps: COMPETE.
That’s what Romo wanted to do with Dak Prescott – compete for the starting quarterback job. But the organization has opted to roll with Prescott as the starter after an 8-1 start, and Romo publicly conceded the position he’s held for a decade during a 5-minute statement Tuesday.
But Romo isn’t considering retirement yet, and owner Jerry Jones gave a strong vote of confidence for Romo’s future.
“It’s not a goodbye. I think Tony has got five years left to really compete for a Super Bowl,” Jones said. “I believe Tony will be the quarterback on a Super Bowl team. I believe that strongly.
I have no plans for him not to be part of the Dallas Cowboys. Not a consideration.
Jerry Jones, Cowboys owner, about quarterback Tony Romo
“We’re talking generic now, and I have no plans for him not to be part of the Dallas Cowboys. Not a consideration.”
At this point, though, it’s hard to see how the Cowboys and Romo could extend their marriage past this season. If the Cowboys are going all-in with Prescott, as they will the rest of this season, why would Romo stay for a secondary role?
Romo feels he can still play at a high level even though he acknowledged Prescott had earned the right to keep the starting job this season in Dallas. That would seem to point to a divorce looming in the future.
Jones disputed that line of thinking.
“Let me say this – it is very tenable to long term, look at this situation, very tenable, for me on a long-term basis,” Jones said. “I don’t want to go any further than that. But it’s very tenable for me to see a long-term basis us being strong at quarterback. That’s where we are with these two.”
Romo is signed through 2019 with salary cap hits of $24.7 million in 2017, $25.2 million in 2018 and $23.7 million in 2019. The dead money numbers in those years drops significantly, from $19.6 million in 2017 to $8.9 million in 2018 to $3.2 million in 2019.
“We have a game in the NFL that has evolved and is designed so that one of its frailties almost is how much success depends on quarterback play,” Jones said.
Jones went on to say the Cowboys couldn’t be in a better situation at quarterback, regardless of the salary cap implications. That is in large part because Prescott was a fourth-round pick and signed a four-year, $2.72 million contract.
Therefore, Romo and Prescott essentially offset each other.
“I just have to really pinch myself we are in that shape with Dak Prescott playing at his level and Tony Romo healthy and ready to go,” Jones said. “[Romo] is preparing himself. He is competing. He is getting the snaps. He’s getting the situation. The team is getting used to him. He’s getting ready to play.”
Tony Romo is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, passer rating, completion percentage and 3,000-yard passing seasons.
Romo has made it clear to the organization he’d like to get his former job back. Romo is the franchise leader in passing yards (34,154), passing touchdowns (247), passer rating (97.1), completion percentage (65.3) and most 3,000-yard passing seasons (seven).
But Prescott has just been too good to make a change.
“It’s difficult within the season to get into splitting reps and doing all that stuff,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “It’s hard. It’s almost impossible. Of course [Romo wants to start]. You wouldn’t want him to be any other way. He’s a great competitor and he’s a guy that if something hadn’t happened to him, I’m sure he would be having a great season so far.
“It’s just right now we’ve got a rhythm as an offense. He sees that, obviously. He has been very professional in his approach, but he’s got a burning desire to get back out there, and that’s what we want from all the guys who aren’t out there.”