The Dallas Cowboys have finally made it official that Tony Romo will be with the team for the entirety of his NFL career after the quarterback signed a six-year, $108 million extension that includes $55 million guaranteed. Everyone kept waiting for the deal so the Cowboys could free up cap space to use in fee agency this offseason, but the deal only opened up $5 million in spending cash for 2013. Sure, it dropped Romo’s cap number from over $16 million to a little more than $11 million this year, but it’s heavily backloaded (shocking, I know) so Dallas will pay for it (literally, and in more ways the one) over the next half a dozen years.
Romo is only due a base salary of $1.5 million in 2013, but that number balloons to $13.5 million next season and then $17 million the year after before finally getting up to $20.5 million in his final season (2019) when he’ll turn 39 years old. That means that the Cowboys will be a lot more cash-strapped in the years to come than they are now and that’s an extremely scary thought.
The other problem with Romo’s deal is the length. Original reports stated the deal was going to be four years, but then it became official that it was a six-year extension on top of the 2013 season, in which Romo was already under contract, so it’s seven years total. The man will be nearly 40 by the time it expires and if you haven’t noticed, Romo’s been knocked around quite a bit in recent years. A broken collarbone ended his 2010 season and then he suffered through broken ribs and a punctured lung in 2011, so the awful offensive line he’s playing behind is taking its toll although not everyone is noticing it right now. But by the time Romo is 39 years old, everyone will see it.
Now right now Romo’s deal is great because it does give Dallas a little more cap space with which to work in 2013 and it saves the team from having to suffer through free agency with the signal-caller in 2014 because Romo’s old contract included a clause that prevented the Cowboys from placing the franchise tag on him had he not signed a new deal before the end of the 2013 NFL season. Although a lot of fair weather Cowboys fans consistently call for Romo’s head, he’s by far the best option the team has available at quarterback right now. If the Cowboys had a top five pick in the draft and there was another Andrew Luck available this year, then that would be different, but they have the No. 18 overall pick this year and there are no quarterbacks even worthy of first-round picks, much less top 10 selections. So making sure Romo is locked up for the foreseeable future was actually a wise choice by Dallas. Locking him up until 2020 might be a stretch, though.
So the short-term effects of Romo’s new deal are great for Dallas, but the long-term results won’t be so great. That pretty much sums up the failure of Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones in trying to build a Super Bowl contender since he ran Jimmy Johnson out of town — the team is always looking to do just enough to get by at the present moment and does no planning for the future. So Romo will be a Cowboy for as long as he’s in the NFL and there won’t be any more talk of his successor for a while. Is that a good or bad thing? After all the debating we’ve done and what has recently happened, who knows anymore?