Ed Werder of ESPN is reporting that Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has informed Tony Romo that the team is interested in extending his contract.
There are a variety of reasons why this is a smart move by the team. However, there are also some ingredients in the mix that may make this considerably less easy to get done than the recent extension of DE/NT Sean Lissemore.
ESPN is all over the story, and using several articles from them, I have pulled the main issues together.
To start with, look at the current contract Romo is under. Contract details as reported by Todd Archer in another ESPN post:
Technically, Tony Romo is signed through 2016. However, the final three years of his deal with the Dallas Cowboys will void after next season as a result of a restructuring of his contract that was performed last summer.
Romo will count $8.06 million against the cap in 2012. It doubles to $16.8 million in 2013. Remember, they will also carry over another $5 million penalty because of dubious league sanctions.
There you have the two basic issues confronting the team. His contract expires after next season, and has a big financial hit that last year. The Cowboys have multiple incentives to make this move. Romo, however, may take a very different view.
Details after the jump.
First off, you have to consider Romo's current value to the team. It appears sky high. In a startling bit of Kool Aid imbibing, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas maintains that the current group of offensive skill players is the best the team has seen since the legendary triplets. And Romo is the lynchpin.
Tony Romo is a franchise quarterback playing the best football of his life.
He is now surrounded by a group of talented and mostly young players that could stay largely intact for several years. In the Archer article I mentioned above, the age argument about Romo is covered, with the conclusion being that Romo is younger in football years than his calendar age of 32. It goes on to cite Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Brett Favre as examples of players who have had success past the same age. The more you look at the situation, the more reasons there are for getting an extension worked out. And there is also this to remember at the end of the article.
It took the Cowboys six years to find the right replacement for Troy Aikman following the Hall of Famer's retirement in 2000.
There is no likely replacement on the team now, and no realistic chance of one suddenly appearing in the next year or two. The Cowboys are going to go as far as Tony Romo's play at quarterback will allow. That may be very far indeed, but the team needs him.
For Tony, however, there may be no real rush. He has already said so, as Werder quoted:
Speaking Thursday about his contract situation, Romo said, "I haven't even thought about it."
He is looking at a very good negotiating position. Dan Graziano at ESPN's NFC East Blog sums it up:
He's playing as well right now as he ever has in his career. He's got one year left on his deal after this one, so even if he were to get hurt this season he's still taken care of for next year and can come back in time to get a new contract when it's over. The Cowboys would have to make it very much worth Romo's while to commit to a number now when the quarterback market shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Romo may be a dedicated player, but the salary numbers are likely to be huge, given Brees' five-year, $100 million contract with $40 million the first year and $60 million guaranteed, completed last July. It is hard to make much of an argument for a home town discount, especially with how many in the home town have joined in the ill-informed chorus of criticism of his play, his leadership, his time spent on the golf course, his choice in women, and his hat-wearing style.
This is going to be a very crucial negotiation for Jerry Jones, and likely his son Stephen, who is the man who massages the salary cap. They have to come up with a fiscally responsible package that is also sufficiently attractive for Romo, and make sure they don't do anything that arouses John Mara's ire. (Yes, still bitter.) And the great irony is that the fans would love to see the team get a bit of a bargain here, while wanting to see the on-field performance from Tony that will just jack the price up.