Gil LeBreton

Best guess is that Owner Jones releases Romo soon and takes salary-cap hit

Tony Romo has likely played his final snap with the Cowboys. He will cost the Cowboys plenty of salary-cap space whether he stays with Dallas, or joins a new team.
Tony Romo has likely played his final snap with the Cowboys. He will cost the Cowboys plenty of salary-cap space whether he stays with Dallas, or joins a new team. TNS

In Jerry World – the state of mind, not just the big stadium – the 2016 season was just an appetizer, all 18 of the Cowboys’ unrestricted free agents will only ask for a modest minimum wage, and Tony Romo will gladly stick around as Dak Prescott’s backup and defer his escape for another year.

In the imaginary Jerry World, you see, there are never any storm clouds over the new Dallas Cowboys Planetary Headquarters in Frisco. It all works out.

Including Romo’s impending departure.

As newly crowned NFL Head Coach of the Year Jason Garrett said this week, “Good things will happen for Tony Romo.”

Since Romo has already banked in excess of $127 million of the owner’s money, I’m somewhat at a loss to understand what good things, exactly, Jerry Jones still owes to his backup quarterback. But in Jerry World, I realize, things don’t always have to make sense.

What is true is that the Cowboys have 18 unrestricted free agents whose immediate worth must be assessed and offered a fair wage. It would be nice to keep veteran Ron Leary to play guard, for one, and Barry Church would seem to be a keeper at safety.

But how many of the other 16 does Jones want and will he be able to pay?

In Jerry World, it all works out. Just listen to his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan.

The Romo thing, however, isn’t going away until somebody at the Frisco Planetary Headquarters figures out how to split the baby.

Can Romo still play? It sure looked like it in his brief cameo in Philadelphia.

How long can he last? Here’s the dice. You tell me.

Does he want to retire? Not going to happen. Why would the proud Romo have rehabilitated his back and practiced so devoutly for four months if he planned to quit football without winning a championship?

Would Tony stick around for another season? Mentally, I don’t think he was all “here” for this season, let alone 2017.

The numbers for Romo aren’t as confusing as they are cumbersome.

His current contract, restructured twice, calls for six years and $108 million with $55 million guaranteed. Romo’s base salary is due to jump next season to $14 million.

But that’s not as much of a problem to the Cowboys as the remaining restructured money and the impending $24.7-million crater it would leave on the salary cap.

To lessen the salary cap hit (by about $5 million), the Cowboys would be better served by waiting until June 1 to either trade or release him. But what team is going to want to wait until June 1 to know whether an oft-injured 37-year-old is its starting quarterback?

And why would Romo, the competitor, want to wait that long? He would want to hit the ground running with his new team – meetings, workouts, OTAs.

In Jerry World, where it all figures itself out nicely, Romo trusts in Owner Jones to do right by him. But that’s where the dream world likely ends.

Based on his rambling words, Jones seems to want Tony to stick around for 12 more months and play backup and unofficial team mascot. In 2018 the Cowboys can simply release Romo, and the cap hit would be $8.9 million. Tony could pick his own new team.

But I don’t see that happening. After losing almost a full season at age 36, Romo is going to want to play football next fall.

Forget any discussion about trade value. Injury-risk Romo is not bringing the Cowboys a high pick in return, except maybe a 2018 pick based upon how much he plays.

As Jones said on his radio show, “There’s only one that can make that decision, and there’s been no decision made.”

The guess here, though, is that Owner Jones will release Romo in a few weeks, swallow the salary cap hit and let Tony pick his new team. The Broncos or maybe the Cardinals. Just guessing.

Those would both be good things for Tony Romo.

For the Cowboys ... well ... haven’t they’ve paid him enough?

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