Romo is signed through 2013 but the fact that the Cowboys want to look at a new deal for him has become something of the normal process with the team lately. Last year they extended Jason Witten and Jay Ratliff even though they had two years left on their deals. Lissemore also had two years left on his contract.
Circumstances are different in each case, but the Cowboys know Romo’s cap number more than doubles in 2013 from this season to $16.8 million, and they would like to bring that down greatly while tying him into a long-term deal.
But that will take some work, even if the numbers are out in the open for everybody to see.
Let’s take a look at some other players the Cowboys might target for deals before the season is up with approximately $5.4 million in cap space, excluding outside linebacker Anthony Spencer because franchise tag rules prevent the team from signing him until after the season.
* Sean Lee (signed through 2013). He has become the leader of the defense and plays as if he has multi-Pro Bowl appearances in his future. He certainly fills all of the categories the Cowboys want in their players and a guy they want to keep around for a long time. St. Louis recently signed inside linebacker James Laurenaitis to a five-year extension worth $41.5 million and $23.5 million guaranteed, according to reports. Those numbers would have to be in the Lee discussion, wouldn’t you think?
* Barry Church (signed through 2012). He will be a restricted free agent when the season ends, so he’s looking at a one-year offer worth in the $1.5 million range for the Cowboys to at least keep his rights in 2013. He has taken over one of the starting safety spots this year and continues to be a special team guy. The Cowboys like his makeup, but is he a long-term answer?
* Kevin Ogletree (signed through 2012). He will be an unrestricted free agent after this year. I talked about this in the Five Wonders post earlier in the week. It’s too early to think of a deal now, but what if Ogletree has a solid year as the No. 3 wide out? If he hits the open market, maybe he cashes in the way Laurent Robinson did with one year of production.
* John Phillips (signed through 2012). He will be an unrestricted free agent after this year. He is dependable and versatile and wouldn’t cost a ton to keep. The team drafted James Hanna in the sixth round last April and like what it has seen from him so far. The Cowboys love multiple tight end sets, so keeping Phillips around makes sense.
* Danny McCray (signed through 2012). He will be a restricted free agent. He’s been the team’s best special teams player since he got here in 2010 and has a role in the sub-package defenses. What’s the long-term role for him? Teams generally don’t go big on special teamers but McCray might be worth it.