NFC East: Tony Romo

IRVING, Texas -- In a recent ranking of sports franchises, the Dallas Cowboys had the highest value of any NFL team, checking in at $2.3 billion.

The Cowboys doled out an average yearly salary of $1.875 million in 2013, which ranked 156th among 294 teams in 15 leagues in seven sports across the globe, according to the survey done by ESPN The Magazine/SportingIntelligence Global Salary Survey.

The Cowboys were 21st among NFL teams in average yearly salary. The Seattle Seahawks were No. 1 at $2.303 million, which was 116th in the overall survey. The Cowboys ranked just below Southampton ($1.893 million) of the English Premier League and just ahead of the NHL's Florida Panthers ($1.850 million).

For the NFL teams, large rosters combined with many players making the league minimum (based on years accrued) led to the lower average annual salaries. Manchester City of the EPL checked in at No. 1 overall at $8.109 million, ahead of the New York Yankees ($8.031 million).

Of the top 25 highest-paid athletes in the world, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo checked in at No. 14 at $26.5 million thanks to the six-year, $108 million extension he signed last offseason that included a $25 million signing bonus.

Romo fit between Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton ($27.5 million each) and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney ($26 million).
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was in Las Vegas last week talking about why AT&T Stadium is a good place to host the Academy of Country Music Awards.

The $1.2 billion palace has hosted boxing matches, basketball games, football games, bowling events, rodeos and Jones has even hinted about hosting an Olympic-styled swim meet. It’s centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth, and is approximately a 15-minute drive to the airport.

[+] EnlargeJerry Jones
AP Photo/James D. SmithJerry Jones is like most any other NFL owner -- he wants to win and he wants his club to earn money.
During his chat, Jones talked about why his Cowboys are the most popular team in sports.

"As you know, the Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in several years,” Jones said. “We have not gone. Yet we're the most popular TV show there is on television. We lead all teams in TV ratings. We lead, 24 out of the last top 25 shows were NFL games, and any time your Cowboys play, and they’re up there at the top and leading."

That comment has led many to believe Jones’ goals have changed, that he doesn’t care about winning anymore and all he wants to do is market his team.

Jones is right, the Cowboys are leaders in TV ratings. And those ratings are why the networks, including ESPN, want his team on late Sunday afternoon games with 80 percent of the country watching. It’s why networks want the Cowboys to play on Sunday nights and Monday nights.

Fans watch.

But it's wrong to think Jones doesn’t care about championships.

That is all he thinks about.

Every day.

While the process is flawed in getting a fourth championship ring on his finger, his commitment is stronger than ever.

Jones is committed to coach Jason Garrett -- for at least one more season -- and he feels Garrett can take his franchise on a deep playoff run.

Jones isn't one of those owners afraid to spend money. He's given huge contracts to Miles Austin, Jeremiah Ratliff, Tony Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware over the years. He believed those players could help him win a championship.

This offseason, Garrett talked about the Cowboys needing to get younger, which produced questions regarding a rebuilding effort at Valley Ranch.

Jones said you don’t rebuild with Romo at quarterback. Retool, maybe, but not rebuild.

The Cowboys expect to reach the postseason every season. But the reality is they missed out by losing in the regular-season finale in each of the past three seasons.

Jones felt the sting of those losses and tried to fix the franchise each offseason, whether that meant firing assistant coaches, releasing top players or changing the duties of coaches and front office personnel.

He wants to win in the worst way.

You may not like how Jones runs his football business, but don't question the commitment. Jones is being honest about what the Cowboys represent: A popular NFL team that makes money. And let's be honest, that’s what the 31 other NFL owners want from their franchises.

You don't think Robert Kraft wants to make money with the New England Patriots? Of course he does.

Again, the process in which the Cowboys go about their on-the-field business may be flawed, but the way things are going off the field is just fine.

If anything, it’s the best in sports.

Please, don’t get mad at Jones for that.
As of now, the Dallas Cowboys don't have plans to visit with some of the top quarterbacks coming out for the NFL draft.

You can view this in several ways:

  • The Cowboys are not tipping their hand on which quarterbacks they actually like.
  • Maybe the Cowboys don't like any of the quarterbacks in this draft.
  • The Cowboys are comfortable with the three quarterbacks on their roster -- Tony Romo, Kyle Orton and Brandon Weeden.

Since 2000, the Cowboys have drafted three quarterbacks -- Quincy Carter (2001), Isaiah Stanback (2007) and Stephen McGee (2009).

[+] EnlargeTony Romo and Jerry jones
Richard Rowe/USA TODAY SportsJerry Jones seems to be squeezing as much as he can out of Tony Romo, but the quarterback's title window may already be shut.
Carter became the starter, but his off-field problems knocked him out of the league. Stanback was moved to receiver, and McGee never developed.

In free agency this offseason the Cowboys snagged 2012 first-round pick Weeden, a 30-year-old quarterback whose pro baseball career enabled him to play college football at a later age. The Cowboys like Weeden's mental maturity and feel they can improve his skill set with help from head coach Jason Garrett and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, among others.

It's a good plan because Romo, who is coming off back surgery, can't play forever. But if you listen to owner and general manager Jerry Jones sometimes, you can come away thinking that he will.

Jones said you can't rebuild with Romo as the starter. Based on Jones' thoughts, the time to win a championship with Romo is now. However, he's been chasing a title with Romo since he became the full-time starter in 2006.

Windows open and close in the NFL all the time, so it's interesting to note, Romo's. In 2006, he came on like gangbusters for Drew Bledsoe and led the Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the NFC the next season. After a playoff win in 2009, however, the franchise has been stuck in mediocrity. Three consecutive 8-8 seasons span from 2011-13.

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Regardless of whether Romo is still a quality quarterback, the window for him to win a championship might be closed.

He's had all the pieces in place the last few years and still hasn't won a title. Just look at the talent base on offense. Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, Flozell Adams, Andre Gurode, Miles Austin, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray all earned Pro Bowl berths with Romo under center.

Some of the names have changed at some positions: Bryant for Owens, Murray for Barber, Smith for Adams. But Romo remains.

The Cowboys don't want to waste a first-round pick on a quarterback, but it would be nice to see Jimmy Garoppolo selected at No. 16 next month. At some point, the Cowboys have to think about the future.

Not bringing in Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or even Johnny Manziel for a visit to Valley Ranch isn't the end of the world. Manziel and Garoppolo met with team officials during the scouting combine and the Senior Bowl. But the lack of personal visits and workouts, which are readily available with the draft pushed to early May, is disappointing.

The secondary is a need this draft. So is tin he defensive line, despite what the Cowboys did in free agency. If you can find an upgrade at quarterback, don't you need to do it?

The answer seems obvious depending on your point of view.

Status has its privileges

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
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IRVING, Texas – Back in the day American Express made famous the slogan, “Membership has its privileges.”

It was that iconic ad that popped into my head when I saw the picture of Tony Romo and Jason Witten in Jerry Jones’ suite at AT&T Stadium Monday night at the NCAA men’s basketball final with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Running back DeMarco Murray was also in the suite, but not in the much-circulated photo.

I tweaked the ad some: status has its privileges.

New SEC Network hire and former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears sparked debate on Twitter Monday and it continued on Tuesday. Spears wondered if teammates of Romo and Witten would be upset to see them hanging with the presidents and celebrities.

Spears has a point, but if Cam Lawrence or Ronald Leary were upset Romo, Witten and Murray were in the suite, oh well. Should I be upset Chris Berman gets to play in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am every year and I don't? Oh well.

Status has its privileges in any line of work. Those three have status, especially Witten and Romo, and we don’t know who else was invited to sit in the power suite to see Connecticut beat Kentucky but unable to attend for whatever reason.

Witten and Romo have been with the Cowboys since 2003. Witten has been to the Pro Bowl nine times. He was named the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2012. Romo owns most of the Cowboys’ passing records and has been to three Pro Bowls. Jones has showed his faith in the quarterback by signing him to two big-time contract extensions. Murray is coming off his first Pro Bowl season.

As teams go, not all players are created equally. Jimmy Johnson didn’t treat Troy Aikman the same as he treated a third-string safety. Bill Parcells treated “his guys” differently than the other guys.

Too many people believe professional sports are entirely different than an office you or I may work in. There is office politics everywhere.

You like some people. You’re OK with some people. You distance yourself from some people. You loathe some people. But you do your job for the common good, be it winning football games or producing widgets.

It can be safely assumed Witten, Romo and Murray were invited by Jones to the suite. He’s the boss. He’s the guy who signs the checks. You have a chance to talk with Presidents Bush and Clinton and some other celebrity folks, would you say no to your boss because the guy in the next cubicle didn’t get invited?

Of course you wouldn’t.

To me, the question is should Jones have put those three guys in position to be perceived as above their teammates in a public way? I doubt the question even crossed Jones’ mind and I’m not sure it even needed to cross it. He was simply making a kind gesture to three of his top players -- and maybe more -- and they took him up on the offer.

If there are players that are upset, then, well, they’ll just have to get over it. But they should also realize Witten, Romo, who is also rehabbing from back surgery, and Murray have been working out at Valley Ranch well before the official start of the offseason program on April 21.

That’s what should matter most to them.

Like just about everything with the Cowboys, perception overrules reality. The perception of the photo might tell one story, but it doesn’t mean it’s the whole story.

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 2

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
12:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready. We touch on a number of subjects ranging from: Chris Johnson, Miles Austin, Tony Romo's successor and cap hell.

If you want to see Part 1, click here.

Away we go:

The NFL released dates Thursday for its teams' offseason programs.

The Cowboys' offseason program starts April 21. The first of several organized team activities begins May 27-29, followed by June 2, June 4-5 and June 9-12.

It will be interesting to see if quarterback Tony Romo is a participant in OTAs. Team officials say Romo should be recovered from back surgery, but if not there could be concern over whether he'll be ready for training camp.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Romo is ahead of schedule. All indications are Romo will be ready in some fashion for OTAs.

Mandatory minicamp will take place June 17-19. Not only is Romo's participation in that even important, so is that of newly signed defensive tackle Henry Melton. He's recovering from a torn ACL, suffered in the third game of the 2013 season with the Chicago Bears.

Melton might not be ready for the minicamp, but team officials aren't overly concerned because there's an expectation he should be available for training camp in late July.

The NFL draft is May 8-10.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- While the Dallas Cowboys project quarterback Tony Romo and defensive tackle Henry Melton will be ready for Week 1 of the 2014 season, their availability for the offseason program, starting April 21 is in question.

Melton
Romo
Romo, according to owner/general manager Jerry Jones, is ahead of schedule from his recovery from back surgery. Jones said Romo has done some throwing motions but stopped short of saying he was throwing passes to receivers.

There are no guarantees Romo will be throwing passes during the spring OTAs and minicamps.

"We feel like he’s right on schedule and hopefully will be ready to go once we get out on the field in the spring," coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. "He’s moving around. He hasn’t been out on the field or anything like that yet. By all accounts he’s doing well."

Melton is recovering from a torn ACL, suffered in the third game of the 2013 season. Medical officials told Melton he should be ready for training camp but in terms of working out with the team this spring, like Romo, that's uncertain.

"Like all of the injured players he’s just going through his rehab process, right now," Garrett said. "He had the surgery, I believe in October. We feel like it’s a reasonable timetable to see him at some point this spring or training camp. He’s responded well to the surgery."

There is some good news regrading injuries. Middle linebacker Sean Lee, who missed the final stages of the 2013 season with a torn ligament in his neck, has been cleared to work out and should be fine for the spring sessions.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The biggest worry for the Cowboys on the injury front is quarterback Tony Romo.

He underwent back surgery in December, and all indications are that he's ahead of schedule.

Romo
"He is ahead of expectations," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. "He is ahead of where we expected him to be."

Jones said Romo hasn't started throwing passes yet, but he can make throwing motions. The Cowboys begin their offseason program on April 21, and Romo is expected to participate in some capacity.

Showing his faith in Romo, Jones told reporters that with Romo as Dallas' QB, the team isn't facing a rebuilding year. The starting quarterback, who missed the final game of the 2013 season because of an injured back, has undergone two back procedures in the past year.

Romo had a cyst removed from his back last spring and then had a discectomy (surgery to remove a herniated disc) in December. Romo returned home on the same day of that surgery and visited Valley Ranch two days later for exit interviews.

After another 8-8 finish, the Cowboys seemed to be in rebuilding mode, with a quarterback in his mid-30s who is coming off back surgery.

"You don’t rebuild with Romo,” Jones said. “The firepower we have on offense and where we are with our running backs, and our receivers -- you don’t rebuild with an offense that’s got the capability we’ve got. We didn’t bring [Scott] Linehan in here to rebuild.”
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IRVING, Texas -- Most of the reactions to the Dallas Cowboys signing quarterback Brandon Weeden have been sarcastic, mean and vulgar, which is fine, although on a public forum you would expect more people to have some decorum.

That’s another conversation for another time for some sociological experiment at a pay grade much higher than mine.

I'll just stick with the signing of Weeden.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsAdding former Browns QB Brandon Weeden cost the Cowboys very little.
The Cowboys are taking a low-cost, low-risk move on a former first-round quarterback who had to suffer through playing for the Cleveland Browns. If it does not work out, then it costs the Cowboys nothing. If it does work out and Weeden makes the roster, then he counts $75,000 more against the cap than Quinton Spears.

Who?

Exactly.

The Cowboys wanted to have another arm available to them in the offseason program to protect themselves from overworking Tony Romo during the quarterback’s recovery from rehab. And if Kyle Orton is serious about this retirement talk, he won’t be a part of the offseason program, either. The only part of it Orton would have to show up for is the June minicamp.

If Orton does retire, he would need to repay $3 million of a $5 million signing bonus he received in 2012. Do you think he wants to pay that money back? If the Cowboys cut him, he’s free and clear.

The addition of Weeden can actually help the Cowboys later in the summer. As I detailed here, perhaps there is a trade scenario that could develop in training camp for Orton or even Weeden if a team loses a starting or backup quarterback.

If Weeden does stick, then the Cowboys have a veteran quarterback behind Romo in 2015 to be the backup who spent a year around the players, learning the system. (I will quickly acknowledge the system might not be the same in 2015 should Jason Garrett not earn an extension.)

The addition of Weeden does not preclude the Cowboys from drafting a quarterback in May, either. It does not even mean they will keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster when the season starts.

There was a time not so long ago that more than a few teams liked Weeden. Maybe not as much as the Browns, who took him in the first round, but enough that they thought he could play. His record is poor, but find me a quarterback with the Browns with a good record. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is poor, but the Cowboys aren’t asking him to come in and start.

The NFL is a player acquisition business. On Monday, the Cowboys acquired a player whom they liked two years ago, who played well enough against them in 2012 and costs nothing but a spot on the roster right now.
The Cowboys visit with quarterback Brandon Weeden today can be viewed in several ways.

Weeden was a favorite of the Cowboys coaches a couple of years ago when he came out of Oklahoma State. His age, currently 30, doesn’t scare the Cowboys because there’s a maturity level associated with it and an expectation he could handle the pressures of being a NFL starter at the position.

But after two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Weeden's compiled a 5-15 mark as a starter and an ungodly mark in Week 1 contests with one touchdown and seven interceptions.

Maybe under the right system, Weeden can excel.

Enter the Cowboys and their timing-based offense. There is no pressure on Weeden to perform with the Cowboys because he’s the No. 3 to Tony Romo and baring injury, isn’t going to sit down for anyone.

So Weeden can learn from Romo and the bounty of offensive coaches, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, passing game coordinator Scott Linehan and coach Jason Garrett about the position.

The flip side to this is backup quarterback Kyle Orton.

Team officials are not sure if he’s returning to the team in 2014. Orton is scheduled to make a base salary of $3.2 million with a cap figure of $4.377 million. If Orton retires, he stands to lose $3 million in not only base salary but the money he would have to give back to the Cowboys for not fulfilling his end of the contract.

Orton has two years remaining on his contract, but the team can void those if he’s on the roster by the 15th day of the league year in 2015.

So in reality, Orton is playing his last year in Dallas and Weeden, if he signs, becomes the No. 2 quarterback in 2015, which is a pivotal year for the franchise.

Why?

Garrett is in the last year of his contract and if he fails to get the Cowboys into the postseason, it’s almost a certainty he won’t get a new deal.

So Weeden will have to learn a new offensive system again for a new coach, if that new coach is as attractive to him as Garrett is.

Weeden finds himself in an interesting situation because if he comes to Dallas, a place that would embrace him and allow him to grow at the position, he might succeed if given the starting job one day.

If 2014 turns into another playoff-less season, then he could be back to square one.
IRVING, Texas – As the Dallas Cowboys ponder what to do with Henry Melton, Jared Allen and Brandon Weeden, let's clean up some salary-cap issues.

First the good news: Well, for Tony Romo and Sean Lee it's good news.

Romo and Lee will receive $5 million payments on their deferred signing bonus money this week. Romo received a $25 million signing bonus last year as part of his six-year, $106 million extension. Lee received a $10 million signing bonus last summer as part of a six-year, $42 million extension.

Now the bad news:

With last week's decision to designate Miles Austin a post-June 1 cut, the Cowboys created $5.5 million in salary-cap room in 2014 but they do not get the credit until June. Most of that money will go to their draft picks. But that move also created $5.105 million in dead money against the 2015 salary cap.

The Cowboys are also looking at $3.98 million in 2015 in dead money once the final two years of Doug Free's deal voids. There will be another $2.254 million in dead money once Kyle Orton's deal expires. The Cowboys could look to extend Free's contract this year, which could keep that nearly $4 million off the books.

And now some good news again:

One way to look at the release of DeMarcus Ware, which opened up $7.4 million in space this year, is that it created $17.5 million in cap room in 2015 because he is off the books.
IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys coaches return from a week off on Monday, they will welcome two free-agent visitors.

Weeden
Defensive tackle Henry Melton and quarterback Brandon Weeden will visit Valley Ranch on Monday, according to sources.

Melton would fill an obvious need with the departure of Jason Hatcher to the Washington Redskins. Weeden could offer the Cowboys protection in case Kyle Orton retires. Weeden could be looking for a place to rebuild his career after a two-year stint with the Cleveland Browns.

With the Cowboys back in the office, it will allow Melton to meet with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who helped develop him into a Pro Bowler with the Chicago Bears. The Cowboys also liked Weeden coming into the 2012 draft.

Weeden had a 5-15 record after the Browns took him in the first round of the 2012 draft. He completed 438 of 784 passes for 5,116 yards with 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.

The Cowboys believe Orton will continue to play in part because he is set to make $3.25 million. If he chose to retire he would have to pay back $3 million of a $5 million signing bonus he received in 2012.

The Cowboys have not carried a third quarterback on the roster since 2011 when they had Stephen McGee behind Tony Romo and Jon Kitna. They had Alex Tanney on the practice squad for much of last season before losing him to the Browns, and re-signed Kitna for the final week of the season after Romo got hurt.

Analyzing what Weeden could mean

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
7:17
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IRVING, Texas -- Judging from the reaction on Twitter to the Dallas Cowboys' interest in Brandon Weeden, not many of you want to see the former Cleveland Browns quarterback with the Cowboys.

Let me offer up a way the addition of Weeden could make sense.

Weeden
With Tony Romo, Kyle Orton and Weeden, the Cowboys would be set on the position for 2014 and it would probably take them out of picking a quarterback in the draft. The Cowboys liked Weeden coming out in 2012 but obviously not at the first-round level. He is older, but they viewed that as a positive and were not viewing him as a possible long-term replacement.

Things went poorly for Weeden in Cleveland. He deserves blame, but the Browns deserve a lot of blame too. He had two different coaches, two different coordinators and the guy who selected him, Mike Holmgren, was gone too. So there is that to consider. A fresh start might serve him well and I'd have to think Jason Garrett would get a read on Weeden from Norv Turner, who was his coordinator last year.

The Browns have been a place where every quarterback has gone to die, so taking a low-risk, low-cost flier on a quarterback you liked just two years ago makes some sense.

So let's fast forward to training camp and the preseason. Let's say another team loses a quarterback to injury and wants to find veteran help. We can all assume that there won't be a lot of quarterbacks available that can step in and play right away, right?

How high would a guy like Orton be on the list for a lot of teams? He threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns in his only start last year. He played extremely well in that loss; better than anybody ever expected.

If Weeden performs well enough (however you want to define that), then the Cowboys could feel comfortable in trading Orton to a team with a big need at quarterback and get a draft pick in return. Remember, this is Orton's last year under contract. If the Cowboys trade Orton before the season starts, but after July 1, then they would gain $3.25 million in cap space in 2014.

Provided he does not retire, which would be unexpected, Orton is set to count $2.254 million in dead money against the cap because of the two voidable years remaining on his contract. So the Cowboys would gain cap space that they could use to roll over in 2015 and get a draft pick for a player they were not going to keep anyway.

Does that make you feel any better?
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have expressed an interest in quarterback Brandon Weeden, according to sources.

Weeden
The Cleveland Browns released their 2012 first-round pick on Wednesday after he threw 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions with a 5-15 record as a starter in two seasons. Weeden, who turns 31 in October, threw for 5,116 yards, completing 438-of-784 passes.

The Cowboys have Kyle Orton as their backup to Tony Romo, and the Cowboys believe he will continue to play rather than retire with a $3.25 million base salary in 2014. If he retires, he would owe the Cowboys $3 million of the $5 million base salary he received in 2012. If he is cut, the Cowboys would save roughly $900,000 in cap space.

Orton turns 32 in November and is in the final year of his contract. After Romo went down in Week 16 with a back injury, Orton came off the bench for the 2013 season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles to throw for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

Weeden signed a four-year deal worth $8.1 million as the No. 22 pick in the first round two years ago. He is still owed more than $2 million in guaranteed money, but the Browns would only have to make up the difference if Weeden makes less from his new team.

It is possible the Cowboys could carry Romo, Orton and Weeden on the 53-man roster if they were to sign him.

The Cowboys have not carried a third quarterback on the roster since 2011 when they had Stephen McGee behind Romo and Jon Kitna. They had Alex Tanney on the practice squad for much of last season before losing him to the Browns, and re-signed Kitna for the final week of the season after Romo got hurt.

The Cowboys liked Weeden coming out of Oklahoma State. He set school records in yards and touchdowns in 2011 for the Cowboys after a short-lived career in professional baseball.
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.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
AP Photo/Alex BrandonDallas 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.

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