Players change teams.
That’s part of life in the National Football League.
After months of speculation and scenarios, Tony Romo tweeted his goodbye to Dallas fans and thanked them for their support Thursday while the Cowboys decided whether to release him or trade him. Thursday was the first day of free agency.
It ends a 14-year career that began as an unknown, undrafted free agent and ended with four Pro Bowls and a series of major injuries.
In between, Romo rewrote the team record book for passing, became a social attraction off the field with his celebrity girlfriends, created a trend with his signature backward cap, starred in a DirecTV commercial and entertained a rabid fan base with his escapability in the pocket.
Here’s a look at Romo’s career:
▪ Signed with a Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois on May 1, 2003, and spent the entire season as the third quarterback behind Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson.
▪ He became the team’s full-time holder for point-after touchdowns and field goals in the season opener in 2004 in addition to his backup duties.
▪ Beat out Drew Henson in 2005 to become the primary backup quarterback. He took his first NFL snap, a kneeldown, against Philadelphia on Oct. 9 to run out the clock.
▪ Then-coach Bill Parcells replaced Drew Bledsoe with Romo to start the second half of a “Monday Night Football” game on Oct. 23, 2006. He made his first start the following week in a Sunday night game at Carolina and led the Cowboys to a 35-14 win. He was later named to the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys finished 9-7 and lost at Seattle in the NFC wild-card game. However, the lasting image was of Romo botching a hold on a late 19-yard field goal attempt by Martin Gramatica in the 21-20 loss.
▪ Led Cowboys to 13-3 record in first full season as a starter in 2007 on the way to Pro Bowl honors. He wiped out many of the team’s single-season passing marks. After a first-round bye, the Cowboys lost at home against the New York Giants 21-17 in the NFC divisional playoffs. A fan backlash singled out Romo and Jason Witten for taking a bye-weekend trip to Mexico.
▪ The Cowboys finished 9-7 in 2008, but missed the playoffs. Romo passed for 300 or more yards six times. He fractured his pinkie finger and missed three games before returning to start the final six games.
▪ Romo took every snap of the 2009 season in leading the Cowboys to the divisional playoffs, in which they lost on the road at Minnesota. Earned Pro Bowl honors for the third time in his career.
▪ Romo’s 2010 season was derailed when he suffered a fractured left collarbone against the New York Giants on Oct. 25 and was eventually placed on injured reserve on Dec. 22. Romo made six starts that season. Jon Kitna had nine starts, and Stephen McGee had one start.
▪ Romo returned to full strength for the 2011 season and passed for 4,184 yards as the Cowboys labored through an 8-8 finish and out of the playoffs.
▪ He started all 16 games in 2012 and passed for a club-record 4,903 yards, but the Cowboys finished 8-8 for the second consecutive season and out of the playoffs.
▪ Romo started 15 games in 2013 before injuring his back against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 22. He finished the game against the Redskins, but was inactive for the regular-season finale against Philadelphia. Kyle Orton started the final game as the Cowboys posted their third consecutive 8-8 season.
▪ Despite having off-season back surgery, Romo vowed he would have the best season of his career when he returned, and he did. He finished with a 113.2 passer rating with 34 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions in 2014. He earned his fourth Pro Bowl berth. The Cowboys reached the NFC divisional playoffs, but lost at Green Bay 26-21 in a game more known for the Dez Bryant catch/non-catch.
▪ Romo broke his collarbone twice in the 2015 season and played in only four games. The initial break came against Philadelphia in the second game of the season. The second was against Carolina in a Thanksgiving Day game.
▪ Last season, Romo fractured a bone in his back during a preseason game at Seattle on a tackle by Cliff Avril. Rookie Dak Prescott took over for the rest of the preseason and regular season and eventually set a slew of rookie records on the way to the Pro Bowl. Romo addressed the quarterback situation on Nov. 15 in a five-minute speech to say he was no longer the starter. Romo played in one series in the final regular-season game on Jan. 1, 2017. The Cowboys finished 13-3, earned a first-round bye then lost at home against Green Bay 34-31 in the NFC divisional playoffs.