Tony Romo, despite missing all but four games to injury over the last two seasons, is probably the most in-demand quarterback on the market. The Broncos are probably the best overall team with a massive hole at quarterback, and the motivation to quickly plug in an effective veteran. So, Romo-to-Denver would appear to be the most logical move for both sides. There are two potential hiccups, though: Romo’s still under contract to the Cowboys, and there are teams besides the Broncos who might want him more.
NFL free agency opens up on March 9, so you’d expect various dominos to start falling relatively soon—even if the Cowboys are reportedly in no hurry to make a final decision on Romo’s future. But when they do, the Broncos will be waiting. Mike Klis of 9News:
Multiple NFL sources tell 9News Broncos general manager John Elway and the team are ready to pursue Romo if and when the quarterback is released by Jones and the Dallas Cowboys.
One agent source also told 9News that Romo’s preferred choice is the Broncos.
There is almost no chance that the Cowboys keep Romo. They appear set for the future with Dak Prescott, and while they could conceivably afford Romo as the league’s most expensive backup—with cap hits averaging $24.5 million in each of the next three years—they’d clearly love to use that money at more pressing positions.
The Cowboys would prefer to trade Romo. (Last week’s rumors of a three-way deal that would send him to Washington were apparently just that, rumors.) But Dallas simply wouldn’t recoup that much for an oft-injured QB with a big expensive deal that will take him through age 40.
So the most likely scenario will see the Cowboys release Romo, but maybe not for a while. They’ll have to eat some $20 million in dead cap space when they cut him, but if they do it after June 1, they can spread that hit out over two seasons instead of one.
The Broncos, with Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian, aren’t so bereft at QB that they can’t wait until June. I wouldn’t bet on them going after any of the other available quarterbacks, who are likely to include Tyrod Taylor and Jay Cutler. But waiting until Romo is released runs the risk of another, even more desperate team stepping up and making the Cowboys an irrefusable trade offer.
That team, according to both reports and common sense, could be the Houston Texans. Another talented defensive team with a black hole at QB, the Texans might be so in on Romo that they’d give up on Brock Osweiler (who’s earned $37 million in guaranteed money this season and last). So if the Texans dangle a draft pick or two in front of the Cowboys, the Broncos may have to step up with an offer of their own, or risk not even getting a shot at Romo in free agency. Worth remembering, though: It was only a year ago that we saw John Elway allow himself to be outbid for a quarterback he didn’t deem worth of the price.
At the combine, Jerry Jones says he’ll take his time with Romo, but ultimately he’d like to find a situation that benefits them both.
“[W]hen you’ve got a situation like we got, we’ll do the do-right rule. That’s it. Very important. We do the do-right rule. We have that kind of relationship.”
If Romo, nearing the end of his career, wants to go to the Broncos because he thinks they’re his best chance of winning a Super Bowl (they are), Jones would likely be fine with that. But would he be so fine with that if the Cowboys can swing a trade, and avoid Romo’s dead money, by sending him somewhere he’d prefer not to go? Just who is supposed to “do right” by whom here? With the most likely Romo-to-Denver scenario not going down until June, this projects to be a long game of chicken.