Print and Go Back ESPN.com: ESPNDallas [Print without images]

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: March 20, 12:03 PM ET
Replacing Tony Romo is no easy task

By Jean-Jacques Taylor
ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- A faction of you want Tony Romo gone from the Dallas Cowboys.

Romo
The Cowboys went through a parade of quarterbacks after Troy Aikman before settling in with Tony Romo.

You're tired of the big-game flops and meltdowns when it matters most. You don't want to see Jerry Jones give him a long-term deal -- think six years and $100 million with at least $40 million guaranteed -- because you don't believe in your heart that Romo can deliver the Vince Lombardi Trophy you so desperately crave.

I get that. All of that.

You see Romo's talent, and it's mesmerizing. You see the mistakes he makes at winning time, and it's mind-numbing.

Some of you figure the Cowboys have just completed consecutive 8-8 seasons with Romo, so why should the club spend close to $100 million for that? You believe, perhaps, the money would be better spent fortifying other aspects of the team.

Here's the problem: You're not guaranteed to find another Romo. Scoff if you want, but it's true.

Passer rating is not the best way to judge a quarterback. That said, you won't find a good quarterback with a bad passer rating and you won't find a bad quarterback with good rating. Romo's passer rating is 95.6, which is excellent. So is his touchdown-interception differential of plus-86 in 93 career starts. Ultimately, that's why the Cowboys will reach an agreement on a long-term deal with Romo, whether we believe he's getting paid too much or not. Contract negotiations are all about leverage. Romo has it; the Cowboys don't.

It seemed like forever when the Cowboys were going through Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe and others while searching for Troy Aikman's replacement.

Think about it; the Buffalo Bills haven't had a star quarterback since Jim Kelly in 1996. The Miami Dolphins have been searching for Dan Marino's replacement since 1999. The Cleveland Browns? Bernie Kosar in 1992. The Kansas City Chiefs? Len Dawson in 1975. The New York Jets? Broadway Joe in 1976.

So you can moan and groan about Romo until you're blue in the face, as mama used to say. Just make sure you're ready to deal with reality if he ever leaves.

Romo is the most polarizing athlete we have in Dallas-Fort Worth now that Josh Hamilton plies his trade on the West Coast. You love him or you hate him.

Romo apologists create excuses for every mistake he makes on the field. Nothing is ever his fault. It's either the offensive line or the receivers or the play call.

Those who want Romo to move on give him credit for nothing and blame him for every loss.

A few of us see Romo in shades of gray.

Romo does some really good stuff and some really bad stuff. If he ever consistently reduces the bad plays and increases the good plays, he'll be among the game's elite. Who knows if he can? Watching him try is the essence and beauty of sports.

Sure, the Cowboys should start preparing for life after Romo. At 32, Romo is at an age where he's much closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Drafting a quarterback would be good start, but it's probably going to require a premium pick to get a player worthy of being a legitimate NFL starter -- and that's unlikely to occur this season. Jason Garrett must draft to protect his job because his future isn't guaranteed. Anything less than 10 wins and a playoff berth and his tenure will likely come to an end.

Romo is the NFL's only undrafted starting quarterback. Of the league's 32 starters, 28 were selected in the first three rounds of the draft.

Still, drafting a quarterback in the first round is no guarantee. For every Aikman there's a Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell. For every Aaron Rodgers there's a J.P. Losman. For every Drew Brees there's a Brian Brohm.

It's rare for team to go seamlessly from Brett Favre to Rodgers like Green Bay did. Or Indianapolis going from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck after just one painful 2-14 season.

Just remember, for those of you so anxious to get rid of Romo, there's no guarantee you'll find a worthy successor right away.