In broadcasting, the future is wide open for Tony Romo. (Matt Rourke, AP File)
The wait to learn Tony Romo’s future is over.
The Dallas Cowboys quarterback — who will released Tuesday, according to multiple reports — is expected to leave the NFL and go into broadcasting, ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Todd Archer and CBS report. Romo, who has played in parts of only five games over the past two seasons (and in only one in 2016) because of injuries, has been mentioned in connection with jobs as a color commentator for games on Fox, NBC and CBS. At CBS, Romo’s name has been bandied about as a possible replacement for Phil Simms, a frequent target of critics on game day.
[Tony Romo must retire and save us from Phil Simms]
Age and long-term health no doubt played a bit part in Romo’s decision, as well as having plenty of opportunities. Romo was injured during a preseason game last August and was unable to win back the Cowboys’ starting job from Dak Prescott. He was a valuable asset as a backup and mentor to Prescott, but an enormous contract and salary-cap hit made it impossible for the Cowboys to keep him. Although there are a number of quarterback positions open around the league, the Houston Texans seemed the most likely destination, with the Denver Broncos also a possibility. However, the longer the Cowboys kept him on the roster, the more broadcasting rumors heated up. Still, it wasn’t clear that Romo would be able to walk away, given his comments last fall about how badly he wanted to play.
“If you think for a second that I don’t want to be out there, then you’ve probably never felt the pure ecstasy of competing and winning,” he said, reading from a statement he had prepared. “That hasn’t left me. In fact, it may burn now more than ever.”
The decision appears to have come down to his health. Romo, who will turn 37 this month and has had serious back injuries, is expecting his third child with his wife and he apparently decided that it’s time to make a serious decision about the rest of his life.
According to ESPN, Romo will be designated a post-June 1 release, which would mean that he would count $10.7 million against the salary cap this year and $8.9 million in 2018, rather than $24.7 million in 2017. The $14 million pickup in cap space would become available June 2.
Romo has already informed owner Jerry Jones, who had said Monday that teams could start calling him about a Romo trade, of his decision.
[Jerry Jones seemed to be in no hurry to resolve the Romo situation]
His decision caps a career that began in 2003 when he was an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois who chose the Cowboys over the Broncos. In the sixth game of the 2006 season, Bill Parcells sent Romo into a game against the New York Giants at halftime an he went on to lead the Cowboys to a playoff berth and held down the starting job until last summer. Despite a 78-49 career record, Romo four times failed to get the Cowboys past the divisional round of the playoffs. He is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in passing yards with 34,183 and touchdown passes with 248.
Since 2013, however, back injuries have been a concern. That year he twice had back surgeries, including a discectomy. He twice fractured his transverse process in 2014, but missed only one game. In 2015, he broke and then rebroke his left collarbone and appeared in only four games. He suffered a broken left collarbone against the Philadelphia Eagles and missed seven games.
He underwent collarbone surgery a year ago but suffered a compression fracture in his back in a preseason game.