NFL

NFL AM: What’s Next For Tony Romo?

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo addressed the media yesterday for the first time since his back injury in preseason.

Romo was above everything else classy, as he vowed not to be a distraction to the team and admitted that it is indeed rookie Dak Prescott’s job as the starter.

Here is the transcript from his statement:

“First, really I just came up here to talk to you guys. I wrote something. I put it together that I really just wanted to read. I know you have a lot of questions as, you know, many of you have hounded me, pretty much daily. Ed Werder texts on the hour. I’m not going to probably get to every … I’m not going to take any questions so hopefully I answer most of them with what I’m saying here and if I don’t answer them, I’m sure we’ll talk in the future. So hopefully we’re going to keep it short. I think it’s for multiple reasons. One, I think it’s in the best interest of our team. But we’ll leave it at that.

So I’m just going to read this and hopefully you can stay with me. I don’t think it will be too long. But I think it does capture the essence a little bit of what your mindset is through all of this and our football team and the situation. So here we go:

To say the first half of the season has been emotional would be a huge understatement. Getting hurt when you feel like you have the best team you’ve ever had was a soul-crushing moment for me. Then to learn it’s not three or four weeks but 10 is another blow. And through it all you have a tremendous amount of guilt on having let your teammates, fans and organization down. After all they were depending on you to bring them a championship. That’s what quarterbacks are supposed to do. That’s how we’re judged. I love that. I still do.

But then here you are sidelined without any real ability to help your teammates win on the field. That’s when you’re forced to come face to face with what’s happened. Seasons are fleeting. Games become more precious. Chances for success diminish. Your potential successor has arrived, injured two years in a row and now in the mid-30s, the press is whispering, everyone has doubts, you’ve spent your career working to get here.

Now we have to start all over. You almost feel like an outsider. Coaches are sympathetic but they still have to coach. And you’re not there. It’s a dark place, probably the darkest it’s ever been. You’re sad and down and out and you ask yourself, ‘Why did this have to happen?’

It’s in this moment that you find out who you really are and what you’re really about. You see, football’s a meritocracy. You aren’t handed anything. You earn everything every single day, over and over again. You have to prove it. That’s the way that the NFL, that’s the way that football works. A great example of this is Dak Prescott and what he’s done. He’s earned the right to be our quarterback.

As hard as that is for me to say, he’s earned that right. He’s guided our team to an 8-1 record and that’s hard to do. If you think for a second that I don’t want to be out there, then you probably never felt the pure ecstasy of competing and winning. That hasn’t left me. In fact, it may burn now more than ever.

It’s not always easy to watch. I think anybody who’s been in this position understands that. But what is clear is that I was that kid once, stepping in, having to prove yourself. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. It really is an incredible time in your life. And if I remember one thing from back then, it’s the people that helped me along when I was young.

And if I can be that to Dak, I tried to be and I will be going forward. We all know something magical is happening to our team. I’m not going to allow this situation to negatively affect Dak or this football team by becoming a constant distraction. I think Dak knows that I have his back. And I think I know that he has mine. Ultimately, it’s about the team. It’s what we’ve preached our entire lives.

I can remember when I was a kid just starting out wanting to be part of something bigger than myself. For every high school kid out there and college player, there is greatness in being the kind of teammate who truly wants to be part of a team. Everyone wants to be the reason they’re winning or losing. Every single one of us wants to be that person. But there are special moments that come from a shared commitment to play a role, while doing it together. That’s what you will remember. Not your stats or your prestige but the relationships and the achievement that you created through a group. It’s hard to do but there’s great joy in that.

And all the while your desire burns to be the best you have ever been. You can be both. I have figured that out in this process. It’s what separates sports from everything else. It’s why we love it. It’s why we trust it. It’s why I still want to play and compete. Lastly, I just want to leave you with something I have learned in this process as well. I feel like we all have two battles or two enemies going on. One with the man across from you. The second is with the man inside of you. I think once you control the one inside of you, the one across from you really doesn’t matter. I think that is what we are all trying to do. Thank you guys. I appreciate it.”

What Does the Future Hold For Romo?

In the short term he’s obviously Dak Prescott’s backup and he needs to get himself healthy enough to play if he’s called upon.  In the longer term, Romo will be released after the season and he’ll hit the open market.

Which teams are the best fits for Romo?

  1. Denver Broncos- Denver already has their quarterback of the future in Paxton Lynch (or at least they hope so), but the roster is built to win now.  A healthy Romo would make them a Super Bowl contender immediately.  They would have to figure out how to fit him in their salary cap and Romo would likely have to take a somewhat discounted salary.
  2. Houston Texans- Yes, Houston spent a bunch of money on Brock Osweiler this past offseason.  Osweiler is terrible and they’re going nowhere with him.  Again, if Romo would be willing to take less money the Texans would be a very good fit for him.
  3. New York Jets- The Jets have talent on both sides of the football and they’re only a year removed from a double-digit win season.  If you put a functional quarterback on that roster they would be a playoff contender.
  4. Chicago Bears- Romo went to college in the state of Illinois and the Bears have a definite need at the quarterback position.  He isn’t going to make them an immediate contender, but the last chapter of his career can occur in a place where he’s appreciated.
  5. Cleveland Browns- Again, like the Bears, this is more about the team’s need for a signal caller rather than Romo transforming the roster.  There aren’t many weapons on the roster, but Romo would be the best quarterback they’ve had in decades.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.