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Sense And Nonsense: Trying To Sort Out The Tony Romo Situation

He is still a member of the Dallas Cowboys, and no one knows when that will change.

Dallas Cowboys v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

There is nothing in the NFL that is generating more coverage of less actually happening than the ongoing soap opera that is the prolonged departure of Tony Romo from the Dallas Cowboys. What had once looked to be a quick, amicable parting is now steeped in mystery, especially since Romo has not discussed his intentions. And the expected suitors for his services seem to be making no effort at all to get him.

This is a situation that was already difficult, and it has only become increasingly awkward as time has drug out. It had appeared that things were going to come to a quick conclusion at one point, with the announcement that Romo’s release was imminent, but there seemed to be a disconnect on that with something changing in the Cowboys front office. The team elected to forego releasing Romo in hopes of finding someone who would trade something for Romo’s services.

Several factors have combined to keep that from happening.

  • The market for Romo appears to be very soft. This is certainly attributable primarily to his injury history and age.
  • Romo himself seems to be be restricting things. The Cowboys have indicated that they would not trade him to a team he was not willing to play for, which has eliminated several teams that might be more open to taking a chance on Romo to turn things around. It is understandable why he is very selective about the situation he would go into, given his injury history and desire to play for a legitimate contender. But that might just make his options too narrow to find a good landing spot.
  • There is also no indication that Romo is open to renegotiating his contract, which makes him both high-risk and high-cost. That could be an issue even after Romo would be released. He might simply not be able to get a contract offer he would be willing to play under, especially with just about every major NFL media outlet reportedly lining up to hire him into broadcasting.
  • Unless someone else blinks, the Cowboys will likely have to release Romo eventually. Having him in the locker room once the OTAs get underway is simply untenable, especially with the growing number of reports about his frustration with things. The statements made by Jerry Jones about “doing right” by Romo were also ill-considered. They just encourage waiting things out until Romo is on the street.

A further wrinkle was added by Adam Schefter during an appearance on ESPN Wednesday, who suggested that Romo may be deciding between playing and retirement to take up broadcasting. He indicated that the team may be waiting on Romo to make up his mind on this, which would obviously take things out of their hands.

Unfortunately, this situation could continue for quite a while. The offseason program does not officially begin until April 17th (per Bryan Broaddus), and until that day, nothing will really change to create any pressure for movement. At the moment, it looks like the ball is strictly in the Jones’ court, unless Romo really is contemplating retirement. Barring a sudden trade offer that just does not seem to be coming, it is just a matter of how long the Joneses are willing to wait it out. And the most recent comments by Jerry Jones give the start of training camp as a possible personal deadline for sorting this out.

Still, that may not be seen as too big a price to pay. Despite all the hand-wringing going on about how discontented Romo is, we still don’t know if that is fact. The simple truth is that once he is gone from Dallas and either signed with another team or moving into broadcasting, this whole episode will quickly fade away, except for those who bring it up to bash the Cowboys and their owners. There have been acrimonious partings between NFL teams and their stars before, and none of them really matter much once the next season gets underway. Since Jerry Jones has largely taken ownership of this whole mess, and Stephen Jones handles the day-to-day operations, including cap management and roster building, this is unlikely to have any real deleterious effects on the Cowboys. The only conceivable thing that could be a negative for the team would be if Romo suddenly decided he was willing to sign with another NFC East team. At the moment, none of them look to be at all interested in acquiring a new starting quarterback, so that seems a non-factor. The only thing that seems certain is that the Cowboys will not have Romo on the roster. It just seems inconceivable that there would be any way to retain him given what has transpired.

Meanwhile, there is the question of just who may be waiting for Romo to hit the open market. The conventional wisdom is that the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans are the only two real contenders. Both keep making statements that show no real interest in him, such as this from John Elway.

Yet, as the weeks pressed on when Jerry Jones decided not to release Romo as promised on March 9th, the rumors of the Broncos interest have shifted significantly towards standing pat. In a poker match, Elway clearly doesn’t bluff.

“It’s not the intent to go that direction,’’ Elway told Mike Klis of 9News on Monday.

It must be observed that there is a good bit of irony that these kinds of reports are coming out just days after a reporter covering the NCAA basketball tournament complained about the questions being asked by a youth reporter for Sports Illustrated. Members of the staff for both the Broncos and Texans keep getting peppered with these kinds of inquiries, despite a simple fact: None of them can say anything one way or another without facing league sanctions for tampering. It doesn’t matter if they are building their entire plan for 2017 around signing Romo or if they legitimately have every intention of rolling forward with the quarterbacks already on their roster. They are forced to say exactly what they are saying. In reality, all they actually are doing is just repeating “No comment” over and over. It is all they can say. Reading anything other than that into what is being reported is simply baseless. And probably poor and/or lazy journalism.

As much as we may want a resolution to all this, all we can do is wait. It is a distraction, and maybe more so for fans and reporters than it really is for the Cowboys. There might be some hard feelings developing for Romo, but nobody really knows since Romo isn’t talking.

The conclusion of this little drama could come at any moment.

But you might not want to hold your breath.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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