As we draw closer to a new league year beginning for the NFL, with each passing day, the biggest drama developing in the league is what will come of Tony Romo in 2017? As it stands now, he is still under contract to the Dallas Cowboys. But he fully believes he should be a starting QB in this league, and with the outstanding rookie campaign provided by Dak Prescott, he will be hard pressed to re-take that job in Dallas. Romo continues to put things out in the press to force the hands of the Cowboys front office, like his teams he is willing to play for, or the fact that he’s willing to restructure his deal to land on a contender. All these things are putting pressure on Jerry Jones to make this move happen and take a load off the shoulders of his young signal-caller.
All signs point to his departure happening sooner rather than later, so now the discussion is where will that be? Now I have my own thoughts on his likeliest of destinations, but what are his best fits in terms of Fantasy production for the upcoming season? Let’s take a look at the teams that would make Romo a viable fantasy option come draft day in 2017.
From a Fantasy prospective, the Broncos seem to be the best fit for Romo. This team is still loaded with offensive talent, spear-headed by Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside, giving him two ultra-talented receivers to utilize in the passing game. They would again immediately move up WR rankings if this move were to take place with Thomas back in the WR1 discussion, and Sanders hovering in the mid-WR2 range. Not only does the passing game get a bump, but the RB duo of CJ Anderson/Devontae Booker would no longer be seeing loaded fronts and could find room to run and rack up points. As we saw with Trevor Semien under center, this offense was just completely useless. And once Anderson went down, every skill position player seemed to suffer. Two other contributing factors in a decision for Romo will be the stability of the offensive line, and state of the defense. With a defense that ranked fourth in the scoring department at 18.6 PPG, that side of the ball will not be a worry. The concern for him will be the O-line, which according to Pro Football Focus finished 2016 as the 24th ranked unit. One has to believe that John Elway will look to improve the line, whether Romo is the QB or not. When it comes down to chasing a Super Bowl title, or helping Fantasy owners to their own championships, Denver is the obvious choice for me when it comes to where Romo will be most valuable in 2017.
The Texans seem to be the leaders in the clubhouse currently when talking possible destinations. They match up well with all criteria that Romo would be looking for in a potential team. They are in a very winnable division, with one of the league’s best defenses, and very skilled talent on the offensive side of the ball. Do I believe that he could put up the type of numbers in Houston that he could in Denver? Not a chance. But he wouldn’t be that far off from finishing as a QB1 in 2017 at the helm of this offense. Behind the 18th best offensive line, he would benefit from clean pockets and time to read defenses and make the smart throws. Now, will he go off script like he does from time to time when things break down? Of course he will. Having a receiver the caliber of DeAndre Hopkins will make it easier to escape the pocket and look for a big play down the field. As we have seen from Bill O’Brien, he enjoys taking shots down the field to either Hopkins or the young speedster Will Fuller. He will also benefit from a strong running game with Lamar Miller, who can take the pressure off of Romo when need be with his exceptional vision and pass-catching ability out of the backfield. The pieces are there to be enticing on offense, but this defense with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney in a weak division all but add up to contention with Romo under center. Now I know that Romo would like to stay in the state of Texas, because of all the work he does in the Dallas community and his strong ties to the Jones family. A short trip over to Houston just seems to be a natural fit. But what are the Texans willing to do with all the money they have tied up in Brock Osweiler? Just eat the money? It’s hard to see them do that, unless Romo plays for substantially less. Time will tell on this scenario.
Another team that is being talked about is the Cardinals. From a Fantasy standpoint, this is another team that could allow Romo to use his talents in the passing game. But let’s not forget that Carson Palmer is all but confirmed to be back for at least one more season, as well as Larry Fitzgerald. Now, could he go there and learn the system for one year? He could, but what would be the point of that? He would be one year closer to retirement, on a team that will all of a sudden be in the midst of a rebuild. Being the QB on an offense that is looking to be more run-based behind David Johnson, may not be a bad thing. But, being behind the 26th best offensive line, which allows tons of pressure on the QB, may be a deterrent in his decision making. With his injury concerns, taking additional hits will be something Romo will not be looking to do. Add in the fact that although we look at this Cardinals defense as being one of the better groups in the league, they were only 14th best in scoring while being in a weak division. His decision on the Cardinals hinges on whether or not Palmer will truly be back. If he does wind up being gone, this team could be intriguing. But in terms of NFL or Fantasy success, Romo could be doomed in the desert.
My dark-horse pick all along in the Romo sweepstakes is the Chicago Bears. They will have a need at QB with Jay Cutler out the door, and with a young and improving group of talent on both sides of the ball, this team could be a great landing spot. With the possibility of retaining the oft-injured Alshon Jeffery and an emerging Cameron Meredith, the receiving group here is not as bad as one might think. Heck, they were putting up points with Matt Barkley under center. Add in a Top 5 running back option in Jordan Howard, and you have all the makings of an offense that would be very difficult to stop. With an improving offensive line that was ranked 15th in 2016 and playing in a very winnable division, Romo could find himself being quite the sneaky draft pick here as a late QB2 with upside. Although there are reports out that have the Bears highly interested in acquiring Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s hard to think that this front office would be willing to pay that price. Romo could be a cheap option as a bridge to the future, while also putting them in contention sooner. If he lands in the Windy City, Romo would find himself quickly rising up my draft board for 2017.
Kansas City Chiefs- A rumored destination, but this is Alex Smith’s team (unfortunately) and in a bland offense, Romo would find himself with little production for Fantasy owners.
Buffalo Bills- If they allow Tyrod Taylor to walk, being the QB in this offense for 2017 could be very intriguing. But to play for second place behind the Patriots? Doubt he gives the Bills a look, but you never know.
New York Jets- Will be some skill position talent to work with here, but again, I don’t see him making a move to the AFC East.
San Francisco 49ers- As we saw with Matt Ryan, Kyle Shanahan can turn a QB around quickly. But the cupboard is bare with receiving options in San Fran. Romo will pass.