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Where Will Tony Romo Play in 2017?

Team Stake

Dak to Future Should Push Romo to Move

2016 was supposed to be Tony Romo’s year. The Dallas Cowboys added Ezekiel Elliott to their offense with the fourth overall pick in the draft. They had the league’s No. 1 ranked offensive line and a borderline-elite wideout in Dez Bryant returning. Plus, a serviceable defense that could keep a game close. However, the landscape of the Cowboys, and perhaps, Romo’s career was turned upside down on one play in the preseason.

Three snaps into the team’s third exhibition contest against the Seattle Seahawks, Romo was tackled from behind by Cliff Avril. It proved to be a costly tackle. One that caused the signal caller to sustain a broken bone in his back and miss the first half of the season. Or so we thought.

With Romo sidelined, Dak Prescott dazzled, and dazzled and dazzled some more. He’s led the team to a 9-1 record up to this point, including a franchise-best, nine straight wins. Along the way, he also set franchise rookie records for completions (214) and passing touchdowns (17) by a quarterback, previously held by Hall of Famer, Troy Aikman in 1989.

On Nov. 9, the day finally came in which Romo was medically cleared to return to football activities. The Cowboys had the decision to make. Move forward starting the red-hot rookie, or return to their veteran, who holds nearly every one of the franchise’s passing records.

After an intense, come from behind victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10, team owner Jerry Jones officially named Prescott the starter for the remainder of the year. Two days later on Nov. 15, Romo held an impassioned press conference, in which he emotionally ceded his spot atop the depth chart to Prescott.

“Dak Prescott, and what he’s done, he’s earned the right to be our quarterback,” Romo said. “As hard as that is for me to say, he’s earned that right. He’s guided our team to an 8-1 record, and that’s hard to do. If you think for a second I don’t want to be out there, then you probably never felt the pure ecstasy of competing and winning. That hasn’t left me. In fact, it may burn now more than ever.”

Romo is now the No. 2 quarterback on the Cowboys. It’s a job that he willingly accepted with the hopes of helping the team achieve their ultimate goal, a championship. However, his career will not likely end as a backup, nor will it end with the Cowboys.

“Football is a meritocracy. You’re not handed anything,” Romo said. “I still want to play and compete.”

The fire remains burning in Romo’s heart. The uncanny passion that only a true leader and competitor can describe. He believes that he can still lead a team to a championship at the age of 36 despite tremendous durability issues and overall health concerns.

Where will Romo play next year?

Tony RomoThat’s the million dollar question, but what’s the answer? In all likelihood, it won’t be in Dallas. If the Cowboys choose to employ Romo in 2017, they will also have to retain his contract, barring an unlikely restructure from both sides. He is owed a $14 million base salary, plus a $5 million signing bonus. Add in a $5.7 million restructure bonus and Romo will account for a $24.7 million cap hit. Quite a substantial dollar amount for an aging backup with an injury history.

Consequently, unless Romo decides to retire, the Cowboys have two options. They could trade him or grant him his outright release on June 1. If the Cowboys cut ties with Romo before that date, they could place a post-June 1 designation on the transaction to avoid salary cap acceleration ramifications. In either case, there has to be a team in the league willing to give him an opportunity to compete for the starting job if he plans on taking the field in 2017.

Today, we will take a look at quarterback-needy teams around the NFL that could be in the Romo sweepstakes this offseason.

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Denver Broncos – The Broncos are a team that has the nucleus in place to win now. However, the 2015 Super Bowl Champions are missing a reliable signal caller to run their offense. After losing Brock Osweiler via free agency and Peyton Manning to retirement, Denver chose to start Trevor Siemian in 2016. Siemian currently has led the team to a 7-3 record and owns the league’s 24th ranked passing offense. The Broncos will once again have to rely on their defense to navigate them to the postseason. Although their defense keeps them competitive, they are hardly the force that they were during their championship run. The Broncos are on track to make the playoffs, but an inconsistent Siemian struggles to sustain drives and put points on the board. That erratic quarterback play will likely deter the team from winning a second Super Bowl in as many years.

  1. If Denver acquires Romo, he will have something that he’s never had during his tenure with Dallas, an elite defense. Denver’s defense would be able to bail Romo out when he makes the aimless mistakes that come along with his gunslinger mentality. He will also have a pair of the league’s top receivers, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, on the outside and an established running game led by C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker. Romo’s addition would make the Broncos an instant Super Bowl contender in 2017 and possibly the favorite to win it.

New York Jets – The Jets put all their eggs in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s basket in 2016 and for a good reason. He led New York to a 10-6 record as well as the league’s 10th ranked offense last season. Despite their 10 wins, they missed the playoffs but had the personnel intact to make a run this year. Fitzpatrick lost his magic, though, and the Jets are amongst the NFL’s bottom feeders. Fitzpatrick simply isn’t a trustable starter, which is why he has been a journeyman backup for most of his career.

  1. Romo to the Jets? Didn’t they do this with Brett Favre in 2008? Indeed they did, but would it be different this time around? Perhaps. The Jets have a talented trio of receivers that include Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa. A solid running game led by Matt Forte and Bilal Powell and a defense that is on the decline. Their window to win is closing. Marshall, Forte, Darrelle Revis and David Harris are on the wrong end of 30 and adding a 36-year-old Romo to that mix would give the Jets a core of veteran leaders in place to right the ship.

Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars, Blake Bortles, need I say more? He was the general of the league’s 10th ranked passing offense in 2015. He gave the city hope that their team would earn a playoff berth for the first time since 2007. However, in 2016, it all came crashing down. The Jaguars plummetted back to reality and are once again in the basement of the AFC South. Why? The onus falls on the shoulders of Bortles, who is proclaimed the king of garbage time production. He’s accounted for 19 total touchdown and 16 turnovers through 10 games this year as well as a 10-29 career record as Jacksonville’s starter since 2014. It’s time for the Jaguars to pull the plug on the Bortles project.

  1. Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Julius Thomas, T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory. In the past, they all have proved that they could account for quality production. They are all under the age of 30, in their prime and are missing the piece to pull it all together on the offensive side of the ball in Jacksonville. Could Romo be that component that they are missing? A seasoned veteran with a history of success in the league? Maybe. Jacksonville, as a whole, is a young team that lacks veteran leadership on and off the field. Romo to the Jaguars is an intriguing marriage in which both sides could thrive. They wouldn’t be a Super Bowl contender at first, but they would certainly challenge for the division title in a weak AFC South with Romo under center.

Dark Horse Candidates

  • Houston Texans
  • Chicago Bears
  • San Francisco 49ers
Last week, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Romo will have a “significant say” over where he plays next season if the team decides to trade him. Rapoport added that Romo has his “eyes on the Broncos,” which is no surprise since he has ties to the team in the likes of former Head Coach Wade Phillips, who is Denver’s defensive coordinator as well as his former teammate, DeMarcus Ware.

Despite all of his accolades, Romo is considered a choke artist by some. But will it be the Cowboys who choke if they let Romo go and he wins a Super Bowl elsewhere, while Dallas continues their 20-year Championship drought? His story is far from over, as he closes his chapter in Dallas, another will open with a new team and a clean slate in 2017.

 

 

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About the author

Anthony Cervino

Anthony Cervino is a lifelong NFL enthusiast, especially of the Dallas Cowboys. He has been infatuated with the game since childhood and was introduced to fantasy football as a young teen. Back then, the league commissioner typed out the weekly newsletter and used the Daily News to tally scores. In a statistic-driven game of fantasy football, Anthony believes that sometimes you have to rely on that good ole gut instinct. Anthony resides in New Jersey where he lives with his wife, son and a pomeranian that is named Roman (after Tony Romo). When Anthony is not immersed in the NFL or fantasy football related activities, he enjoys bodybuilding and spending time with his family. Anthony is committed to giving you his best analysis and most accurate statistics to help you win championships. Don't hesitate to tweet Anthony @therealnflguru about anything NFL or fantasy-related topics. He will always respond in a timely fashion.

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