After spending his entire career in Dallas as their anointed golden boy (and Jerry Jones’ favorite son) veteran quarterback Tony Romo will hit the free market.
Cowboys are releasing Tony Romo on Thursday, sources tell @toddarcher and me.
Let the Romo recruiting in Houston and Denver begin.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2017
It’s been evident since halfway through last season that rookie Dak Prescott had graduated from heir-apparent to his official successor, so Romo has no doubt been mulling his options elsewhere for a hot minute now. The man can play some damned good football when he’s healthy, and lucky for him, there are only about 10 other QBs in the NFL that are capable of winning a Super Bowl.
Sorry, Ryan Tannehill.
That’s why Romo is such a commodity, in spite of the fact that he has started just four games since 2014 and will turn 37 years old in April. Remember when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning in 2012, just after he’d missed a season and had his neck rebuilt? He was just a year younger than Romo is now, and he had a few of the best seasons of his career.
That’s obviously not the most likely scenario here, but Romo is a far better option for playoff-ready teams than anyone else in free agency or the draft. And teams on the verge aren’t the only ones seeking salvation. Romo himself desperately wants to win a ring before he hangs it up. He’s consistently been one of the most talented QBs in the league for most of his career, and now that his time in Dallas is over, he’s no doubt modeling his twilight NFL years after those of Manning.
Taking all of that into consideration, there are only three teams that really make sense for Romo: the Denver Broncos, the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Texans and Chiefs were both playoff teams last year whose deficiencies at offense kept them from competing with the elite at the next level, and the Broncos not only spent the season trying to make things work with under-performing rookie quarterback Trevor Siemian, but played in the best division in the league. Both the Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders moved onto the postseason from the AFC West, and the Broncos finished a respectable but disappointing 9-7.
So where will Romo land?
You can immediately take the Chiefs off the table, as multiple reports say that they’re committed to Alex Smith at quarterback and are not interested in entering into a conversation with Romo. That leaves Houston and Denver.
Houston is the option that makes the most sense on the surface. Romo could remain in Texas, where he will undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms and joyful jeers aimed at the cross-state Cowboys. They also had the best defense in the league in terms of yards per game allowed, although that stat is more than a little misleading.
While the Texans defense was certainly very good, they played six games in the AFC south – one of the NFL’s least competitive divisions. They also allowed 20.5 points per game, ranking them 11th. The Broncos, who were 4th in the league in total defense and allowed just 15 more yards per game than the Texans, were also the league’s 4th ranked scoring defense with 18.6 points per game allowed.
On the other side of the ball, Houston ranked dead last in the league yards per reception (9.9),second-to last in receiving touchdowns (15) and 28th in total receiving yards. Those numbers were all worse than Denver’s.
Where Houston may have an attractive advantage to Romo is in their coaching, which is far less in flux. Denver overhauled their staff this off season, whereas the Texans have a corp group that has been building the team for a while now. In Houston, Romo will find a locker room with a strong sense of identity. The attractiveness of that fact cannot be overstated, particularly for a guy who has dealt with as much adversity in the locker room over the years as Romo has.
When everything is said and done, Romo’s best choice is the Texans. He may have to take less money in the long run if he wants to play there, but Denver is just too much of a wild card.