Tony Romo read from a prepared statement and did not take questions ahead of his return as a backup quarterback.
When Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he believes Tony Romo will quarterback a Super Bowl team and has another five years to play, it sure sounds like’s trying to build up some trade value.
Because to figure out what the Cowboys could get for Romo — whose emotional concession speech to star rookie Dak Prescott was “not a goodbye,” Jones told reporters Thursday — you have to start by considering the conversation that would take place elsewhere.
“Imagine me going to (the owner) and saying, ‘Listen, I’m going to make a trade for a 36-year-old that’s got back issues that’s a backup,’ ” one NFL general manager told USA TODAY Sports this week. “He’d be like, ‘You’re crazy.’ ”
Executives in personnel from five other NFL teams — all speaking on condition of anonymity because they’re not allowed to publicly discuss another team’s player — echoed concerns about considering Romo anything more than a one-year flyer, given his age and the injuries that have limited him to four starts over the past two seasons. That drives down the price.
But the message from those execs was clear: In a QB-deficient league, there would be a market if the Cowboys try to trade Romo, who returns from another back injury as Prescott’s backup Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. It’s just a matter of how much a team is willing to gamble.
If you think you can win now, and the list of free-agent options starts with Jay Cutler (assuming he’s cut), Colin Kaepernick (assuming he voids his contract), Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon, EJ Manuel, Brian Hoyer, Blaine Gabbert, Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, why not at least consider a four-time Pro Bowl pick who had his best season in 2014?
One GM guessed the Cowboys could get as much as a second-round draft pick, with the caveat Romo may have trouble passing a physical. Another executive predicted the Cowboys could ask for a second or third. Another said he thought a third was the ceiling.
Several other executives predicted the compensation would be much lower — perhaps a conditional late-round pick, which could become more based on performance and playing time.
One even guessed they’d get a sixth-rounder only because somebody will be desperate.
Among the potential suitors that come up: the New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals (if they dump Carson Palmer) and Chicago Bears. (The San Francisco 49ers need a QB, but it’s hard to envision Romo fitting in coach Chip Kelly’s system.) If more than one get team involved, the price figures to go up.
The Jets have traded for an old QB before, dealing a fourth-round pick that became a third for 38-year-old Brett Favre in August 2008. But Favre was coming off a stellar season with the Green Bay Packers.
A better comparison is Trent Green, who was 36 when the Miami Dolphins acquired him from the Kansas City Chiefs for a conditional fifth-round pick even though Green had missed eight games in 2006 because of a concussion. Green suffered another concussion in the season’s sixth game and didn’t play for Miami again.
Romo’s recent injuries — including three broken bones in his back and two collarbone breaks since 2014 — could be considered just as alarming from an investment standpoint.
As the first GM explained, neck and back issues are scary with older players, especially quarterbacks, forcing you to approach things as if that player will only play eight to 10 games. In that light, Romo’s relatively reasonable $14 million salary for 2017 may look less appetizing.
Compare it to the possibility of drafting and playing a healthy 22-year-old for a far lower price over the next four years. The group of QBs who may enter the 2017 draft isn’t considered as deep or talented as the Class of 2016, but some rise through the evaluation process every year.
The veteran market can always get shaken up by the unexpected — e.g. the Washington Redskins not tagging or re-signing Kirk Cousins, or the Buffalo Bills declining Tyrod Taylor’s option. But those are far less likely than Romo being available, even though Jones was quick to say Thursday it’s “not a consideration” for him to leave.
That’s another line people use to boost trade value, but nobody believes it here. If anything, there’s a sense that Jones, who has grown very close with Romo over 14 years, might grant Romo’s release if he asks for it, letting him choose his new home and giving the Cowboys some extra salary cap flexibility.
All this is without considering the possibility Romo plays again this season for one reason or another, giving him a chance to prove Jones right — and showcase himself for the rest of the league.
Tom’s Top 10
(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
1. (2) Dallas Cowboys: Steelers blitzed like crazy, failed. How do you rattle Dak Prescott?
2. (3) Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson’s ever-improving mobility bodes well for stretch run.
3. (1) New England Patriots: Gronk’s status worth watching. Injuries hit O this time last year too.
4. (5) Kansas City Chiefs: Up to 18 wins in 21 games without several stars. All hail Andy Reid.
5. (6) Oakland Raiders: Can defense rise? Depleted Texans are no pushover in Mexico City.
6. (4) Atlanta Falcons: Scheduling oddity – they play once in 23 days. Next vs. AZ on Nov. 27.
7. (7) Denver Broncos: Aqib Talib practicing before bye is a good sign. He’s been missed.
8. (NR) Philadelphia Eagles: Jim Schwartz’s defense is top-eight in most key categories.
9. (NR) New York Giants: Pass rush, run game remain key holes, but they’ve won 4 straight.
10. (NR) Miami Dolphins: Credit to Adam Gase for making changes, finding ID after slow start.
Dropped out: Minnesota Vikings (8), San Diego Chargers (9), Pittsburgh Steelers (10).
* Note: Does not factor in the result of Thursday’s game.
Source: Google Sports