The Tony Romo train to the Houston Texans, a team desperate for competent quarterback play, gained plenty of steam on ESPN’s NFL shows Thursday.
ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Thursday morning that a source said the Dallas Cowboys quarterback expected to be released and not traded, and that he believes he can start as an NFL quarterback for two to three more years.
Romo, 37, lost his starting quarterback position last season after rookie Dak Prescott solidified his place as the Cowboys quarterback of the future while Romo was rehabbing from another injury.
“The teams I understand he’s looking most closely at are Denver, Kansas City and the one he may have the most interest of all in, the Houston Texans,” Werder said on “NFL Live.”
Later on “NFL Insiders,” Werder said he thinks Texans coach Bill O’Brien and Romo “would be a good match. I think proximity to Dallas would be attractive to Tony for family considerations.”
And his interest is piqued in the Texans “because of the quality of their defense, the [offensive line] pieces in place at center and left tackle to protect him, and they’ve got terrific young weapons in the passing game and at running back.”
ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian said the Texans receivers may be overhyped.
“But here’s the one thing they have and you’re going to need if you bring in Tony,” Polian said on “NFL Insiders.” “You better have a quality backup. Whether that’s [Tom] Savage or [Brock] Osweiler is immaterial.
“Because you can’t say Tony’s playing 16 games.”
The Texans still owe Osweiler $37 million guaranteed after signing him as a free agent from Denver before last season. Osweiler flopped with the Texans in his first year, but the Texans may see him needing more seasoning, which Romo could provide.
Savage already has his own injury history.
Romo’s salary cap hit will be $24.7 million, the highest in the NFL, if he stays with owboys in 2017. And he wants to compete for the starting job, unlikely to happen with the Cowboys after Prescott’s sensational season.
The Cowboys don’t play the Texans in 2017, but the schedule rotation matches them against the AFC West, which means games against Denver and Kansas City.
Denver’s line is suspect and Polian believes Chiefs coach Andy Reid still has confidence in incumbent starting quarterback Alex Smith.
Going to a team after being released means Romo would have to play under an incentive-based contract with a low salary figure. His salary with the Cowboys in 2017 will be $14 million, a figure an acquiring team would pay in a trade for Romo.
Polian said of a team signing Romo as a free agent: “You’re going to structure the contract in such a way that you’ll protect yourself against injury. Tony is going to have to recognize that that’s the case.”
His trade value isn’t there, ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth said, but “as soon as he becomes free he’s got huge value.”
“Absolutely I think they release him,” said ESPN analyst Darren Woodson, a former Cowboys star safety. “[Owner] Jerry Jones want to take care of Tony Romo.”
And Romo’s destination? Woodson said, “I feel like he’ll end up with the Houston Texans.”