Free agency produced a lot of headlines yesterday, but the Tony Romo story remained front and center with the usual conflicting reports and rumors - most of which we've summarized in our roundup of the latest Cowboys headlines below.
Without Tony Romo, Broncos losing big ground to New England in Super Bowl chase – Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post
Over the last few weeks we've been inundated with reports out of Denver about how the Broncos and great John Elway, whose name shall only be spoken with hushed reverence, had no real interest in Tony Romo. Turns out, that may not be entirely accurate. Kiszla writes that the Patriots "crushed" the Broncos in free agency and that the Broncos "need Tony Romo to save them now".
The attempts to upgrade the Denver roster could be described in one word: Zzz.
The apologists paid to kiss Elway’s rings will tell you the Broncos got down and dirty in free agency, emphasizing substance over sizzle. But, so far, Denver hasn’t done much to improve from being a 9-7 football team.
Make no mistake. The Broncos need Romo more than they did a week ago.
The Broncos not only surrendered their championship to the Patriots, they watched as the eyes of the NFL nation drifted from Denver to New England and Dallas. Romo might break his back trying, but know what he could immediately do for the Broncos?
Put them back in the center of the NFL conversation.
Sources: Quick resolution to Tony Romo's future with Cowboys now unlikely - David Moore, SportsDay
The waiting game looks to continue for a while yet.
Barring unforeseen movement on the trade front, sources said nothing is expected to happen with the veteran quarterback this weekend. One source went as far as to say "it's optimistic'' to suggest Romo's status with the Cowboys will be determined in the next week.
This doesn't mean the club has altered its position. The Cowboys intend to release Romo if a trade partner isn't found. Owner Jerry Jones informed Romo of this stance in a meeting on Wednesday, according to sources.
Report: Cowboys to release Tony Romo barring 'major upset' - Zack Kelbermann, CBSSports.com
Rumors, misinformation, and outright lies pervade free agency. Sometimes it's hard to figure out which is which, and in the Romo saga, everything is possible.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports, "based off multiple people inside [the] league," that Dallas won't trade the veteran quarterback, as owner Jerry Jones has recently insisted.
Romo is still expected to be granted his release, assuming a "major upset" doesn't take place, according to Schefter.
Tony Romo Shouldn’t Rush Into the Broadcast Booth, He’ll Be Fast-Tracked Whenever He’s Ready - Kyle Koster, The Big Lead
Reports emerged yesterday that Foxsports is looking to replace John Lynch (off to play GM for the 49ers) with Tony Romo, and that other networks had also expressed interest. Koster argues that there's no hurry for Romo to make such a career decision.
Talent and celebrity is a combination that will open doors in the entertainment industry. Romo figures to have both whenever he wants to make the jump.
Of course, since this is Romo rumor season, all of this could be a smokescreen. Always important to remember that.
Cold war brewing between Romo and Cowboys - Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk
PFT back to what they do best: producing speculative fiction.
While it won’t be easy to negotiate a trade that properly balances the possibility of another major injury in the preseason and Romo staying healthy and winning a Super Bowl, he surely has some value in trade. Although I’ve been advocating for months that the Cowboys should simply release him, I can’t blame them for trying to get something from the Texans or the Broncos, especially now that the Texans don’t have the guy they anointed as the starter a year ago.
The dynamic changes if/when Romo ever decides to go public with any of the frustration he may be feeling about being told one thing and having something else happen. For now, though, there’s no reason for either side to flare up. If a trade doesn’t happen in Arizona and the Cowboys still refuse to release him, that’s when Romo should go ham.
Cowboys fans, take a breath and find out what wild start to free agency really means for your team - David Moore, SportsDay
walks us through the the players the Cowboys have lost and the players they've signed, notes that there's still work to be done at a number of positions, and then draws this conclusion.
The Cowboys are coming off a 13-3 season. Their top free agents were going to be in demand. Defections were expected.
But unlike two years ago, when the Cowboys lost running back DeMarco Murray in free agency, this team has yet to lose any one player who defines its identity. It will bring back 10 starters on the offensive side of the ball if you take into account that Collins started ahead of Leary to open last season.
Spending big money in free agency is something good teams avoid. The best teams overcome losses because they have developed good, young players through the draft that are ready to take over. We're about to find out how well the Cowboys have done in this department.
2017 NFL Free Agency: Trade-happy Patriots big winners, top receivers losers - Sean Wagner, CBSSports.com
CBS Sports broke down the winners and losers from Friday's free agency action, and have the Cowboys on the winning side.
The Cowboys: They didn’t do anything splashy Friday, but they made a nice few moves to address their depth.
They reportedly re-signed Terrance Williams to a four-year deal. The Cowboys also reportedly signed Stephen Paea to bolster the interior of their defensive line. The Cowboys also reportedly added [Nolan Carroll] to the mix.
None of these players are household names, but that’s OK. A team like the Cowboys, who went 13-3 last year, doesn’t need to make any splashy signings. They just need to bolster their roster and fix some of their weaknesses. That’s what they did Friday.
Grading every deal of 2017 NFL free agency - Sam Monson, PFF
PFF assigns grades for all big free agency transactions, and two of the Cowboys' signings grade out well:
WR Terrance Williams, Grade: A
Dallas does a nice job in locking up a solid receiving option for extremely modest money. Williams may be capped in terms of his role in Dallas, but he has been a big-play threat for the team with receptions for at least 42 yards in each of his four seasons, and catches of longer than 75 yards in two of them.
DT Stephen Paea, Grade: B
The man with the scouting combine bench press record, Stephen Paea is a solid rotational body on the defensive line, and well worth $2 million over a season. This is a good pick up for Dallas.
Jeff Heath is the Cowboys’ strong safety with Church, Wilcox gone - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
If the Dallas Cowboys started the season today, Jeff Heath would be their starting strong safety. And they’re okay with that, Davison explains.
But Heath has made a favorable impression on the coaching staff. He has become a standout special teamer, ranking third with seven special teams tackles last season.
Heath, who turns 26 in May, has also shown a knack for the ball when he’s filled in at safety. He led the team with two interceptions in 2015 and also had an interception last season. Heath had a hard hit and sack of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the divisional round playoff loss as well.
In a limited role throughout the season, Heath was credited with 20 tackles, one interception and two passes defensed.
Dallas Cowboys have changing of the guard at safety - Todd Archer, ESPN
With Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox leaving in free agency, the Cowboys will turn to Jeff Heath and Byron Jones as their starting safeties -- for now.
Byron Jones, Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier are left, with Jones and Heath the current starters. You have to say "current" because you can’t predict the future.
The Cowboys will likely look to add to the position in free agency with cost-effective signings and/or in the draft, which is said to be loaded with safeties.
Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Doug Free to retire - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer was the first to break the news of Free's coming retirement, so I'll leave it up to him to explain how the Cowboys might reshuffle their offensive line as they look to replace Free.
The Cowboys could move Collins to tackle, a spot he played at LSU but not in his two years with the Cowboys, or hope the injuries that have plagued Chaz Green -- a third-round pick in 2015 -- the last two years are a thing of the past. Adding a low-cost free agent or commit to a high draft pick are options, but the draft is not stocked with top prospects this year.
How Do The Cowboys Fill The Breach In The ‘Great Wall’ After Doug Free Retirement? - Dawn Macelli, Blogging The Boys
The news of right tackle Doug Free’s retirement opens up some questions on the Cowboys offensive line, and Macelli runs through a host of in-house options for filling Free's vacated spot, before concluding:
Last but not least, there is always the option of acquiring talent to fill the gap. This might be done via the draft or through free agency. There will be guys who can play a credible role hitting the open market all the way through final cutdowns at the end of training camp.
Now is not the time to panic. Doug Free will be tough to replace, but not impossible. The Cowboys will have options from now up to the beginning of the season.
Tired of the Redskins dysfunction? There’s one person to blame. - Sally Jenkins, The Washington Post
The Washington Post rips Daniel Snyder, calling him a man child with "childish impulsivity." Great read. An excerpt:
All of Snyder’s hires and fires are really just human shields for the owner’s behavior, they are there to absorb the public blame for his childish impulsivity and unpleasant little manipulations. He’s like the baby who keeps throwing his bottle on the floor, just so he can watch others pick it up. At this point, you begin to think the real game to Snyder is not football, it’s making other people feel his petty power, fostering tension and disorder for his personal entertainment.
The wife of recently fired Redskins GM Scot McCloughan took to Twitter earlier this week:
Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence & making sure that impact lasts in your absence— Jessica McCloughan (@JessicaMcCloug1) March 10, 2017
Check out the replies to the tweet above to see the overwhelming support of Redskins fans for the guy the Redskins deemed fit to fire.