Brought to you by: Big Shucks
By Zach Walker
This 2016 season that the Dallas Cowboys had was truly unprecedented. The Cowboys had a killer draft class, producing four starters, and this class will only improve with time. This class was so good, that it has placed the Cowboys in a predicament. What to do with their veteran torch carrier Tony Romo? Romo escaped the pocket in Seattle, started to slide, and now might be the biggest X-Factor during the 2017 offseason. Dak Prescott still has a lot of room to grow as a passer, but his wheels have too much momentum to take them off of the ground. We didn’t get to see much of Romo, except for a single drive against the Eagles, which ended with a touchdown. It was essentially a teaser trailer for teams that could be in the market for a quarterback. The draft class is alright with quarterbacks, even still, whichever team brings in Romo, they shouldn’t be dissuaded from developing or drafting a young protégé to take notes behind Tony. I don’t know how much longer Romo is trying to play, given his well-documented history of injury, which is the obstacle for him.
Now that it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Romo will be given his mutual release from the Cowboys, it opens the door for a boat load of teams to pursue an upgrade their quarterback situation. When I started writing this piece, trades were still a possibility, and that really limited the options for teams that could have caught his contract. Now the release is imminent, the options across the NFL landscape are plenty. These are the spots where I can see Romo landing on his feet.
Arizona Cardinals: Tony Romo is better than Carson Palmer. It really, sort of, is as simple as that. With Romo and all of the weapons that he’d be surrounded with: Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, JJ Nelson, Jermaine Gresham, and the dynamic dual-threat in David Johnson, it could be a truly epic situation for Romo to jump into. However, with Carson Palmer returning to play under Bruce Arians for a third straight season, I don’t think B.A. will want to switch at this in his process. I’d say that the probability of Romo becoming a Cardinal is quite unlikely.
Buffalo Bills: It’s sunnier in Buffalo right now. They’re now Ryan free! The defense will be better, the team will be better. I know that they have a shocking amount of money tied to Tyrod Taylor, and that’s the obstacle. Managing Tyrod Taylor and Tony Romo’s money. I know that one reason that Taylor hasn’t fully flourished is that Sammy Watkins hasn’t stayed on the field as much as he could. The Bills have weapons. Outside of Watkins, they have Charles Clay, a great football player, and still one of the most dangerous backs in this era, LeSean McCoy. And that’s where Romo would really make sense, the Bills have one of the strongest running games in the league, and with the personnel that the Bills have on defense, Romo could put the Bills into uncharted waters, the playoffs.
Chicago Bears: I personally think that this is the least favorable spot for Romo to potentially end up. The Bears have very few things established. No positions are truly settled, they’re young in a ton of spots and not very good in others. They might not be able to keep their top offensive weapon around, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, then the incentive is pretty much a drained well. They have a solid young tandem of backs, but really, this is a barren cupboard. The connection of Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace, actually having played with Eastern Illinois is a cool tether but I’d be truly taken aback by Romo choosing the Bears.
Cleveland Browns: This really isn’t as bad of an option as others would assume. They have weapons on offense, it would be made better if they could keep Terrelle Pryor around, but even still it’s a solid bunch. The offensive line could improve just out of motivation and belief that now they’re in it now. The Browns could also bring in Ron Leary and Terrence Williams to make things as maximum Romo-friendly. The Browns also have the number one and twelfth picks in the draft, which could really boost the Browns on defense. Hue Jackson would have a great quarterback to work with. The problem is that division. The AFC North is a buzzsaw. All of the teams have major pride points on defense, and they color a bit outside of the lines when it comes to whistle-to-whistle play.
Denver Broncos: Denver has already spoken out loud about Romo that they’d be interested if he were to be released. Well, it appears like that’s happening, let’s just see what happens. Gary Kubiak isn’t around anymore, so the run game is going to have to be re-established. Under the direction of rookie defensive-minded head coach Vance Joseph, who knows which way the Denver offense will go. Bringing in Tony Romo, and easing Paxton Lynch into the fold could be a very real, very smart course of action for John Elway to explore. The Denver defense is still very much the same group that won the Super Bowl two seasons ago, and with competent quarterback play (which Romo would instantly provide with surplus) this team could be very dangerous again.
Houston Texans: Of all the options in the landscape of the NFL, none look quite as enticing as Houston for Romo. Location is essentially the same, so a relocation of his family wouldn’t really even be necessary. An offensive coach in Bill O’Brien, who’s already juiced plenty of lemonade out of quarterbacks that he’s gotten hold of. For O’Brien, it prolongs his search of a franchise quarterback through the draft. For Romo, the weapons that he’d have access to, is nothing like he’s ever had in Dallas. DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Braxton Miller, Jaelen Strong, two tight ends in CJ Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin, and a very solid back in Lamar Miller to lean against. With Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus coming on strong in absence of JJ Watt, having Watt return is a scoop of ice cream for the cake on the plate. If they can figure out the Brock Osweiler money situation out and have Romo come in and help Osweiler along, the Texans could be standing on the AFC sideline in Super Bowl 52.
Kansas City Chiefs: This one is on my list, basically, because I’ve heard and read “Romo to KC” narratives. Do I think Romo could do well under Andy Reid? Absolutely! Do I think there’s even a chance of Romo going to Kansas City and the Chiefs and Andy Reid untying themselves from Alex Smith, who has always been more mobile than Romo? No. I actually believe that there is zero chance of Romo landing in KC. I’m just putting this down to debunk it.
New York Jets: Romo to New York, sounds depressing. The Jets absolutely looked checked out for the back half of the season and there were those pinning for the removal of Todd Bowles. Sure, his team appeared to quit with about six games left, but they were dealt bad fruit from jump-street. Why anyone continues to give Ryan Fitzpatrick money to quarterback their team, is well beyond my comprehension. He’s exceptional at being precisely sub-par, and that’s always been his ceiling. When they didn’t put Geno Smith when Fitzpatrick threw six picks in a game, they gave up on him. When Bryce Petty went down, and they went BACK to Fitzpatrick rather than even taste the sauce of Christian Hackenberg, which was more than telling. Romo would be the best quarterback by a wide margin, and he would have weapons with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Quincy Enunwa, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins with Matt Forte being solid in the backfield. But is two more seasons worth playing for the Jets?
San Francisco 49ers: I, like most, am still “fun”dering what John Lynch is doing as a general manager in the NFL. But, as long as come September onward that every few weeks I hear Daryl Johnston calling the occasional afternoon Cowboys’ game, I’m not going to take the piss out of the 49ers’ decision. The 49ers have high position draft selections in every round in this draft. They could be staring at any quarterback in the draft in the first, and primed to pounce on a slipping prospect in the following rounds. In terms of incentive to join the 49ers, it’s Carlos Hyde and Vance McDonald and that’s really it. They’re a far cry from being a good team.
Los Angeles Rams: Besides the Texans, this is my ACTUAL bet to land Tony Romo. I feel that it makes too much sense. They brought in Sean McVay to work with Jared Goff to bring him up to NFL game speed. Goff didn’t do too much to show that the Rams made a smart investment during his play last season. Now, a single rookie season doesn’t garner a “bust” label, but bringing in Romo is a seriously non-threatening solution to the Goff development program. The Rams and McVay can do to this Cal quarterback, like what happened to the last one, and do a slow brewing process of bringing Goff along, and have Romo play the “Farve” role in finishing out his career in a favorable position. The Rams have some weapons, which Romo could amplify, and an emerging young tight end in Tyler Higbee. The Rams’ could easily get back to a power running style with Romo having his doctorate in under-center exchange, and the Rams’ defense has the talent to get them into the playoffs. Bringing in Romo doesn’t admit the Rams whiffed on Goff, in fact it prolongs that narrative, and that’s why I believe it makes so much sense for LA.