In a move that surprised most football analysts, Tony Romo, quarterback (QB) for the Dallas Cowboys, was not released on Thursday. This leaves a lot of options available for the franchise, including reworking Tony Romo’s contract with the Cowboys or trading him. According to ESPN, two teams have potential interest in a Romo trade, including the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans. But with a potential $24.7 million salary cap hit ($14 million base salary plus $10.7 million prorated signing bonus), the Cowboys are definitely exploring what Tony Romo’s contract options are concerning his trade, release, or retirement.
How A Tony Romo Trade Affects The Cowboys
If a Romo trade goes through to any team, the Cowboys are still looking at a $19.6 million salary cap charge in 2017. That charge is the remainder of the prorated signing bonus that is owed to Tony from his contract in 2013. If the Cowboys trade Tony or he retires, that amount would immediately hit the 2017 salary cap.
This is the same charge that the Cowboys would have taken if the rumored release on Thursday had taken place. For the trade, there’s a specific deadline that the Cowboys have to look at: June 1, 2017. A Tony Romo trade or release before this date slaps that $19.6 million charge onto the Cowboys’ salary cap, which would save them $5.1 million to pursue options in free agency. However, if they Cowboys wait until after June 1 for a Romo release or trade, they will carry the full $24.7 million charge through the entire free agency period until he’s released at the deadline.
Why would they want to carry that charge? If the Cowboys wait until after June 1 for a Romo trade, then they can spread the $19.6 million salary cap hit over two seasons, which gives them $8.9 million in salary cap savings this year because that’s deferred until the 2018 season. Although with as tight as the current salary cap situation is with the Cowboys, that charge doesn’t make much sense. The $5.1 million savings immediately is what prompted most of the rumors about the Cowboys releasing Tony Romo immediately rather than later.
Trading Romo before June 1 carries the same implications, with the added benefit of the Dallas Cowboys picking up a draft pick from the trading team. With Tony’s injuries lately and his lackluster performance, he’s probably not going to pull in the same offers as he would have three years ago. But the Cowboys will still benefit. And at $14 million base salary, Tony is still a great deal. Any potential trade would likely have conditions applied based on Romo’s performance in the 2017-2018 season as well.
What About Tony Romo Retiring?
If the trades don’t go through, then the Cowboys could look at letting Romo retire with grace. Dallas would work up a contract renegotiation to pay him the minimum salary of $11.7 million in 2017, and then place him on the retirement list in June. That move would equate $7.9 million in savings on the Cowboy’s salary cap and let Tony bow out gracefully. This scenario only works if they rework Tony Romo’s contract prior to the June 1, 2017 cutoff, however. After that, it would be the same as releasing him; the $19.6 million contract hit would be spread out over two years and would have dire implications for the Cowboy franchise as they scrambled to renegotiate contracts with other aging stars.
The Dallas Cowboys’ 2017 contract options for Tony Romo right now boil down to three options: release, trade, or retire. Tony Romo doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, so right now, the most desirable option for the Cowboys is to look into a Tony Romo trade with a non-NFC team. As the June 1, 2017 deadline approaches, however, look for the Cowboys to try to talk Romo into renegotiating his current contract and retiring in June.
What do you think? Should the Cowboys continue to pursue a Tony Romo trade? Or should Romo retire gracefully this year? Let us know in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Michael Perez/AP Images]