In just 26 days, free agency officially kicks off on March 9. And there's a good chance the Cowboys will find a trade partner for Tony Romo by then, which is why trade chatter is picking up, as the headlines below show.
Cowboys could get second-round pick for Tony Romo - Jason La Canfora, CBSSports.com
La Canfora reports that the Cowboys will be able to get a conditional third-round pick for Romo that could tun into a second depending playing time.
Consensus among a few personnel guys I trust is that the Cowboys can get at least a third-round pick for Tony Romo, and possibly one that moves to a second-round pick based on Romo's playing time and ability to stay healthy.
The Chiefs and Texans make a lot of sense to other football people; we'll see if either steps up.
Tony Romo - Tracking every possible landing spot for 2017 - ESPN
On Thursday, ESPN broke down the most probable landing spots for Romo (all 12 of them!), dividing them into categories of "Realistic chance," "long shot, but not impossible," and "other long shots."
The article counts the Bears, the Cowboys, and Jets as realistic chances, while the Chiefs, Texans, and 49ers are among the "long shot, but not impossible" category. Here's what ESPN wrote about the Chiefs.
Why this could work
Alex Smith has been good enough for the regular season, but the Chiefs are only 1-3 in the playoffs with him under center and could very well be a quarterback upgrade away from deepening their run into the postseason and, ultimately, winning a Super Bowl. Romo could be the boost Kansas City needs to contend, and the Chiefs could be the team Romo needs to give him a real chance at a championship before he retires.
Why it couldn't
Trying to squeeze Romo's contract into an already-challenging salary-cap situation would be one obstacle. Not to mention the concern that applies to any team considering signing the veteran: Romo hasn't started a game since 2015, let alone played a full season since 2014. There is no way of really knowing whether he could be that upgrade at quarterback the Chiefs need.
Sifting through possible Tony Romo future destinations - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer doesn't think the Cowboys are an option for Romo, rules out the Bears and Jets along with the Bills and Browns because "they don’t appear close to winning." But Archer also explains that "there will be suitors for Romo. Maybe more than we can possibly know right now." Two of those potential suitors could be the 49ers and Texans.
The Niners are intriguing because of Kyle Shanahan. He has admired Romo from afar. His dad, Mike, was and remains a big fan of Romo’s. Mike Shanahan tried to sign him as an undrafted rookie in 2003 and has maintained a relationship with Romo. The Niners have a lot of cap room ($80 million) and a good running back (Carlos Hyde), but not much else. But there’s $80 million in cap room and six draft picks in the top 150.
The Texans have won three straight division titles with, politely, uneven quarterback play. They have a good running back in Lamar Miller. They have a solid receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. And they have the best statistical defense in the NFL and will welcome back J.J. Watt in 2017. Coach Bill O’Brien can have an innovative offense if he has a quarterback that can run it, and Romo has that capability.
Myles Garrett Begs Jerry Jones To Draft Him - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
In this video, Garrett is heard making his plea to Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett to trade up and make him a Cowboy - and includes Tony Romo as part of the trade with the Browns for the No. 1 overall pick.
"I’m speaking to you, Jerry," Garrett says on the video. "Mr. [Jason] Garrett, make it happen. Dak Prescott is leading our team right now. I need you to take Tony Romo, take a couple picks, and give them to Cleveland so you can pick me up, please. I’d love to play in Dallas. Let’s make it happen."
Tony Romo appears to have Kansas City Chiefs door slammed shut - Vince Langford, The Star-Telegram
The offseason is the time of year where you shouldn't put much stock into what NFL GMs say, and even less stock into what player agents say. With that in mind, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey addressed speculation about Tony Romo recently.
"First off, I‘m not going to talk about another team’s player and I think it’s not prudent for me to talk about that, so with that being said I won’t talk about it," Dorsey said.
And he endorsed Chiefs starting quarterback Alex Smith.
"We’ve said all along he is the starter — I don’t know what more you want to say," Dorsey said, via the Kansas City Star. "He’s led this franchise to three playoff seasons out of four, which is pretty good in my eyes."
How the Cowboys could create more than $50 million in 2017 salary-cap space - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys are over the cap for 2017 at the moment, but some simple restructuring of contracts will take care of that faster than you can say "salary cap hell".
Through the magical world of contract restructuring and a release or two, the Cowboys can go from being well over the cap to more than $40 million under the cap, and that does not include doing anything with Tony Romo.
Before you let yourself get carried away about the highest of high-end free agents, you should know the Cowboys won’t create that much room. The Cowboys do not believe free agency is an effective way to build a roster. Over the last few years, they have used it as a supplemental tool, getting players at their prices while others pay big – too big, in the mind of the Cowboys – to get better.
Worst NFL free-agent pool ever won't stop desperate teams from diving in wallets first - Jason La Canfora, CBSSports.com
Why so few impact free agents? Smart teams are drafting well and locking up their good young players, La Canfora explains.
The best players get new deals after their third or fourth years (as will be the case with guys like Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason), and the also-ran teams are left to pick through the leftovers of the weaker drafting teams.
Welcome to Darwinism, NFL style.
The heaviest spender in free agency in 2016, Giants GM Jerry Reese, kept his job by pouring hundreds of millions of free-agent dollars into his roster, but he had no 2016 playoff victories to show for it, and still has many holes to fill. But the teams most often involved in the final two weekends of NFL football (New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Green Bay) basically eschew free agency and focus on retaining their own.
Cowboys one of five teams reportedly interested in Pierre Garcon - Mike Jones, The Washington Post
In its look at the Redskins' offseason plans, the Post wonders if Pierre Garcon may be leaving Washington.
The team likes Pierre Garcon, and Garcon says he wants to be here. But as many as five other teams (Rams, Eagles, Bears, Cowboys, 49ers) are expected to want this reliable veteran to serve as a security blanket for their young quarterbacks.
If any of those come correct (financially), and the Redskins do the Redskins thing and lowball their own rather than giving them the respect they deserve, Garcon will likely shrug and go elsewhere.
Evaluating The Late Addition Of OG Jonathan Cooper - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
Helman argues that Jonathan Cooper should "be a cheap guy to re-sign, given his up-and-down track record these past few years," and there is a lot of potential upside to re-signing Cooper:
"If" the Cowboys can help him discover the ability that made him a top 10 pick in the NFL draft, it could be an enormous gain for an offensive line that already boasts three All-Pros. The North Carolina product has had a rough go of it during his four-year NFL career, but he was clearly picked seventh overall for a reason.
If there’s a place where Cooper could revitalize his career, it’d have to be in Dallas – where he’d be sharing a room with three All-Pros. Guys like Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin could not only help him better his craft, but they’d make his job much easier.
5 Cowboys free agents most likely to depart - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Hairopoulos completes here countdown of the five Cowboys free agents who are likely to depart in 2017.
No.1 OG Ron Leary
No. 2 TE Gavin Escobar
No. 3 RB Lance Dunbar
No. 4 CB Morris Claiborne
No. 5 WR Terrance Williams
2017 Free Agency: Terrance Williams - Carles Crawford, Over the Cap
Free agent money is coming for Terrance Williams, and OTC have the lowdown on how much he can expect.
I wouldn’t expect Williams to sign for less than Sanu’s $6.5M APY. Assuming that the market agrees that Williams is worth somewhere in the range of $6.5M to $8.0M APY, the next question to answer is if that team is Dallas. I think that it is much more likely that the team will add a secondary option through the draft than compete with other teams for Williams’ services.
Why Cowboys had better SB week than Atlanta and what that means heading into offseason - David Moore, SportsDay
Moore makes an interesting case that is not going to sit well with the alarmist part of Cowboys Nation.
How can a team that failed to win a playoff game, that fell two wins shy of advancing to Houston come out ahead of the Super Bowl loser?
While the Falcons squandered the largest lead in Super Bowl history on the way to defeat, the Cowboys were picking up one award after another. Quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, the offensive line and head coach Jason Garrett were all recognized. Owner Jerry Jones earned a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Atlanta suffered a demoralizing loss, the sort usually accompanied by a hangover heading into the next season. The Cowboys received affirmation for an outstanding season that ended prematurely, one in which they overcame a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter only to lose to a quarterback with the hot hand in Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.
The Cowboys should [feel] better about themselves and the way their season ended than the Falcons heading into this offseason.