Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has been through a lot of ups and downs since entering the NFL in 2003. This article’s intent is to analyze Romo and his ability to evolve and adapt as a player, where he stands historically in his career right now, and ultimately how long he really has left on the gridiron.
The Tony Romo Window
Romo’s Evolution and Adaptation as a Player
Romo joined the Cowboys as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2003. His ability to extend the play in and out of the pocket has always been one of his best attributes as a player. This skill alone is priceless for a quarterback because it allows receivers more time to get open and for Romo to analyze the entire field before deciding where to throw.
Romo often got in trouble early in his career when he didn’t have enough time to throw or when he decided to throw stubbornly into tight coverage anyway. As his career has progressed, he has protected the ball better and even become more efficient overall as a passer in his later years. Romo has really needed only one security blanket throughout his entire tenure with the Cowboys, and that has been Jason Witten.
A player who has been by Romo’s side since day one, both have survived through multiple regime changes and several different offensive systems. Romo and Witten have connected on 632 passes in their careers, the most ever by a quarterback and tight end duo. Their constant chemistry on the field gave Romo a crutch to depend on during times of desperation. This allowed Romo to focus on other areas of his game and to develop better chemistry with all the other receivers on the team each year.
Tony Romo’s Legacy
Romo has played his entire career for the Cowboys. He has over 34,000 passing yards, 247 touchdowns, 117 interceptions, and a career passer rating of 97.1 (third-best passer rating in NFL history). Since becoming a full-time starter in 2006, Romo has 25 come-from-behind victories, the most in the NFL. He is also tied with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during that span for the most fourth quarter interceptions on game-winning drives with nine.
Ironically, the main reason Romo gets knocked by fans is the late game blunders he has been famous for throughout his career. But if you can look past those nine losses, Romo and his numbers are historic. He has also taken heat before for being overpaid. However, the Cowboys would be the first to argue that he has actually signed two team friendly deals and has always been willing to restructure his salary for the team’s cap needs.
Appropriately, Romo is set to make $8.5 million from the Cowboys this year, $14 million in 2017, $19.5 million in 2018, and $20.5 million in 2019. With salary structures set to go up across the board, if he stays healthy, he is a huge bargain for Dallas. The question is, will Romo be around to play during those final years of the contract he inked in 2013?
Is the Window Closing?
In 2010, Tony Romo missed ten games with a broken left clavicle. Last season, Romo missed 12 games with virtually the same injury. For the other nine seasons of his career, Romo has missed a total of five games. He definitely has issues with his non-throwing shoulder/arm area, but after surgery he remained optimistic that he would be at full health before the season. He was also a full participant for the Cowboys OTAs last month.
The bottom line when it comes to Romo’s health is that anyone can be hurt on any given play. But with the Dallas offensive line and healthy complements of Witten, Dez Bryant, and Ezekiel Elliott, Romo’s chances of getting the ball out quickly and staying upright seem to be looking better than ever.
Nonetheless, Romo’s injuries have definitely taken their toll, and Jerry Jones still seems happy to admit that Romo has “four or five” more years left every ten minutes. However, Tony Romo and his presence on the football field for the Dallas Cowboys, now more than ever, means infinitely more to the franchise itself than any dollar amount or service Mr. Jones could offer in return.