To let Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones tell it, he has no idea how the future of quarterback Tony Romo is going to play out.
Romo, who turns 36 in April, could be released. He could be traded. Or he could stay with the Cowboys, which is the owner’s stated preference.
“I haven’t resigned myself to anything regarding what his status will be,” Jones said. “That remains to be seen. ... I have not ruled out the possibility of him being a part of the Cowboys at all.”
Though sincere, Jones must know that Romo staying is the least likely of all possibilities.
The Cowboys found their quarterback of the future (and present) with offensive rookie of the year Dak Prescott. Romo still considers himself a starter and would like a chance to prove it. Plus, if Romo leaves, the Cowboys would realize some salary cap savings that could help improve other areas of the team.
But Jones was definitive and resolute in a roughly 70-minute state of the team conversation that included 33 Romo-related questions inside the blue-star emblazoned Cowboys bus outside the Indianapolis downtown Marriott Saturday.
First, Jones said there was no factual basis to Friday’s three-way trade rumor that involved the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers, and that would have Romo ending up with the Redskins.
Jones said he hadn’t heard of the rumor until asked about it by a reporter on Saturday and that no one has talked to him, Romo or anyone associated with the Cowboys.
“Nothing factual in any way,” Jones said. “Haven’t had that discussion with anyone, most of all Romo. And so any of these things that you might see that represents interest or looks like it will be a fit or those kinds of things, all of those have no basis at this point other than just a thought of the different teams or different people that are involved. I wouldn’t have any consideration or comment or speculate on what might fit because I don’t think that anyone has that feeling at this particular point.”
Secondly, the idea of Romo playing in Washington is a non starter for Jones because he wouldn’t trade him to a division rival, and there is an unspoken understanding that Romo wouldn’t sign with the Redskins as a free agent if he was released.
There is no deal to guarantee such an action but Jones feels confident in his relationship with Romo that he would abide by the “do-right rule.”
“It is implied that we will work in the best way we can for the mutual interest of Tony and the Cowboys. That was just implied,” Jones said. “That’s important here. Now we’ve got to abide by every league rule. We can’t have agreements without it being within the boundaries of the NFL. But when you’ve got a situation like we got, we’ll do the do-right rule. That’s it. Very important. We do the do-right rule. We have that kind of relationship.”
Jones said a decision on Romo will likely happen sooner rather than later and that they will not be held hostage by the March 9 start of free agency.
Jones met with Romo in his Star in Frisco office right before the Super Bowl.
Romo didn’t ask for his release. But they discussed all the scenarios and possibilities.
Though there definitely will be communication, Jones said another meeting isn’t needed before a decision is made. And the decision will be suitable for all parties.
“What I’m really saying is that I do not know how, what we will end up with – whether it will be a trade, whether it will be a release, whether it will be neither,” Jones said. “I do not know at this time. All scenarios have been well-considered and thought out. Now we’ve just got to see where the reality is.”
While Jones believes Romo can still lead a team to the Super Bowl, he wants Romo to return to bolster the Cowboys’ quarterback position behind Prescott. But what Romo wants – where and how he wants to continue his career – are also factors.
“He’s considering options,” Jones said. “Obviously, we all know that he’s going to have the opportunity to look at whatever situation, if there are situations. He’s going to have an opportunity to look at it. He gets to say and control this situation every bit as much as we do.”
Not once did Jones get emotional when talking about Romo or his likely departure. That’s because he is confident in his relationship with Romo. Jones believes their relationship makes the decision easier not tougher.
Helping Jones move forward is the belief that he has done everything over the last 10 years with Romo’ best interest at heart, which also proved to best for the team, even now.
Much of Prescott’s success was based on Romo-friendly organizational philosophy – a strong running game and a powerful offensive line.
“I feel so fortunate to be where we are as a team and have the team and have Dak. I feel very fortunate. But a lot of what this team is about, I thought that on a personal basis Tony would have been the benefactor,” Jones said. “When I look at our relationship, for all the right reasons it was to win and win big, win a Super Bowl. We might not have the decisions we made in the offensive line had we not been so focused in on protecting Tony, and then having the running game.
... But if there’s anything about sports, if there’s anything about our game, probably the most certain thing is that it’s not going to happen or come out the way you thought it was going to. It never does.”