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Friday, March 14, 2014
Will Tony Romo suffer same fate as Ware?

By Calvin Watkins

One of the biggest reasons the Dallas Cowboys moved on from defensive end DeMarcus Ware was money. The team just didn’t want to devote $16 million of salary-cap space to a player coming off a six-sack season whose body was beginning to break down.

If anything, you could say this was a smart move in getting rid of a player to save money, in this case, $7.4 million.

Quarterback Tony Romo will reach that point someday.

Tony Romo
Dallas keeps restructuring Tony Romo's deal, which could lead to a tough decision in the near future.
As part of a restructure, Romo converted $12.5 million of his 2014 base salary into a signing bonus. So now he’ll receive a base salary of $1 million, and his cap number is lowered from $21.7 million to $11.7.

If not for the restructure, Romo would have had the second-highest cap number in the NFL at his position behind Chicago’s Jay Cutler ($22.5 million).

Now Romo has the 16th highest cap hit at his position for this year.

But the future is almost now in the NFL, and the more the Cowboys keep pushing money around to create salary-cap space for the present, the more it will hurt them in the future.

Next year, Romo’s cap number is projected to be $27.7 million, the highest in the NFL. New Orleans' Drew Brees is projected to have the second-highest cap number for a quarterback at $26.4 million.

Romo’s base salary for 2015 is $17 million.

Team executive vice president Stephen Jones said a quarterback is going to take the biggest chunk of the cap on most NFL teams, and he’s right. Another example: the Giants' Eli Manning has a cap number of $20.4 million for 2014.

But at what point are you getting bang for your buck?

Romo turns 34 next month and is coming off his second type of back surgery, and if you see the same overall team result -- not making the postseason again -- regardless of how he plays, is it worth devoting a huge amount of cap space to him?

Yes, especially if you think he’s a good quarterback, which Romo is. Age and health are determining factors for players in the NFL. The fate of Romo, meanwhile might be decided in 2016.

Yeah, it’s a few years away, but if the Cowboys restructure Romo’s contract again next year to lower his cap number, it only increases it the following year. In 2016, Romo’s cap hit will be $17.6 million, pretty reasonable right?

Well before the restructure of 2014, the cap number for 2016 was $15.1 million. Now it has been increased. The Cowboys, like most NFL teams, expect the salary cap to grow each year, so they can absorb some of this money.

However, Romo, who is signed through 2019, will be 36 in 2016. Will he be the same at that age?

What happened to Ware this week could happen to Romo, and though it’s not easy to find a replacement for a defensive lineman, it’s harder to find a franchise quarterback.