What a waste of cap space
Cowboys, Tony Romo agree to six-year, $108 million deal
Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY Sport
March 29, 2013
Tony Romo's security as the Dallas Cowboys' quarterback is now etched in money.
The team and its star player struck a six-year, $108 million contract extension Friday — $55 million is guaranteed — that answers any questions as to whether the franchise would stick behind its much-scrutinized signal caller.
"Absolutely, we feel that we can win a championship with Tony," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told USA TODAY Sports, while also confirming details of the contract, which takes effect in 2014 and is scheduled to run through 2019.
"We wouldn't be doing all of this if we didn't think we could win with him."
Romo, who turns 33 next month, received a $25 million signing bonus.
Set to earn a base salary of $11.5 million for 2013, Romo was scheduled to carry a $16.8 million salary cap number for this year. But the re-worked contract lowered his cap number by $5 million for the upcoming season.
"Tony has always considered himself a Cowboy for life," Romo's agent, R.J. Gonser, told USA TODAY Sports. "Now it's a reality."
And at a high price. The wow factor with Romo's megapact — the new money averages $18 million per year — compared to an $11.25 million average salary in the previous contract is that the guaranteed portion exceeds the $52 million in guarantees that Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco secured from the Baltimore Ravens with his six-year, $120.6 million record contract earlier this month.
No doubt, Romo benefited from Flacco's fortune.
"Any contract, especially for a quarterback, influences the market," Jones said.
The talks with Romo included an added element of intrigue: the possibility that he could have walked as a free agent next year.
Under his previous deal, a renegotiated contract executed in 2011, the final three years could have been voided without the option for the Cowboys to keep Romo's rights with a franchise tag provided he was on the roster through the end of 2013. Jones, though, contends that it was not an issue. He said that he was never concerned the talks would collapse to the point that Romo would leave. Gonser said he didn't sense it would come to that, either.
Gonser led a team of CAA agents that included Ben Dogra, Jimmy Sexton and Tom Condon.
"Any time you're dealing with your quarterback, or another key player like that, it takes time," Jones said. "It's not a thing where you sit in a meeting for a couple of hours and get it done. You have to work through some things. It was just a matter of finding comfort for both sides and getting a fair deal."
Of course, for Romo, there's an added value — or burden — attached to being the face of arguably the NFL's most high-profile franchise: the man is a magnet for debate.
Heading into his 11th season, Romo has evolved from undrafted free agent to one of the NFL's most productive passers. He owns franchise records for career passing yards (25,475), touchdowns (174) and 400-yard games (4).
But detractors can point to one particular statistic — playoff wins — as an indicator that committing to Romo for the long haul includes an element of risk.
At least one member of the quarterbacking fraternity was taken aback by Romo's windfall.
Donovan McNabb issued a tweet Friday revealing his shock at the money his former NFC East counterpart is now making. (It's worth noting Romo's lone postseason victory came at the expense of McNabb's Philadelphia Eagles following the 2009 season in what turned out to be McNabb's final playoff appearance.)