“It’s implied we will work in the best way we can for the mutual interest of Tony [Romo] and the Cowboys. […] When you’ve got a situation like we got, we’ll do the do-right rule. That’s it. Very important. We do the do-right rule. We have that kind of relationship.” — Jerry Jones, March 3, 2017
At the start of the month, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones laid out his plans for how to deal with his beloved quarterback turned third wheel, Tony Romo, a Dallas folk hero Wally Pipped out a job by Dak Prescott and on the path to employment elsewhere, whenever Jones decided to do something about it. The nearly universal prediction was that Jones would cut Romo sometime in early March and designate with him with a post-June 1 release, which would allow Dallas to split Romo’s $20 million cap hit over 2017 and 2018. The Cowboys initially appeared to want at least a little in exchange for Romo (why not try to get something for nothing?) but then Jones made his comments in early March, which suggested that if Dallas couldn’t trade Romo by March 9 (the first day he could be cut), he’d get the gold-watch release — thank for your service, best of luck on the open market (and don’t sign with the Redskins). You know, the Cowboys would follow the “do-right rule.”
Fast forward almost a full month and Romo is still on the Cowboys. Any trade momentum that existed is gone and this do-right rule has transformed into “keeping things in limbo.” From the outside, it appears simple: Dallas wants to get something — a pittance, really — in return for Romo. It’s as if the idea of cutting a top-tier quarterback, no matter how superfluous to the team nor how unwieldy his contract, is just too much for Jones to handle. He’s Tony Romo, after all. Eight months ago he was about to get under center for a Super Bowl contender. And now he’s supposed to be given away, for nothing? I mean, I gave away a broken refrigerator this morning and the guys still handed me a Goodwill tax write-off. Romo can’t bring anything (except $5 million less in cap space over the next two years)?
And this appears to be Jones’ folly. There is no trade market to court. It’s non-existent and wishing it weren’t doesn’t make it so. It’s all for two good reasons: 1) The Cowboys have no Romo leverage. They’re sitting back waiting for calls on their spurned quarterback but because Jones overplayed his hand with that phony “do-right rule” nonsense, nobody’s in a hurry to give up anything for a guy they believe will be available for free at some point. And that’s not some hope; the message came straight from Jones! 2) Romo’s contract, as is, can’t be traded — not realistically anyway. The price tag and hits are too high, especially for a 37-year-old with more back problems than Tiger Woods.
Much was made this week about John Elway saying he’s comfortable with his two young quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. This was treated as gospel despite the fact that the only time people lie more than during the NFL offseason is if they’re testifying at a Senate subcommittee hearing. Elway’s not stupid. He’s not giving Jones any inkling that maybe, just maybe, the Broncos will cave and give a sixth-round pick just to get it over with. Denver and Houston, possibly, seem very content to wait it out. They know Jones isn’t going to keep a backup with a $25 million cap hit, no matter how much they like each other or how many friendly drinks they’ve had together. So they wait. And if Jones calls their bluff, then good luck with that backup getting paid more than Tom Brady, friendo.