Big news of the day was the Dallas Cowboys giving Tony Romo a 6 year extension worth $108 million that will keep him in Dallas until 2019. Some people have gotten a little wrapped up in the overall value of the contract but it’s a number I had discussed in the offseason as a realistic point for him so I don’t think it’s surprising. The contract contains $55 million in guarantees of which $25 million come in the form of a signing bonus according to Todd Archer. $57 million will be paid in the first three seasons, though the 3 year new money average is $54 million.
Archer broke down the cap hits in his article which has Romo counting in excess of $20 million in 2014 and 2015 against the salary cap. The contract is clearly designed for the Cowboys to convert his base salaries in those seasons into prorated bonuses. If the Cowboys can keep Romo at those cap charges and not restructure him then the contract will likely end in 2016 when it becomes reasonable to absorb the dead money associated with cutting Romo. Every restructure adds at least 1 season to the real length of the contract so Dallas should only consider restructuring him in the future as a last resort.
I think a question that should be asked of the Cowboys is why did it take so long to get this deal done? Clearly there was no hard bargaining position being taken by Dallas as evidenced by the guarantees and overall contract value. Had they extended Romo back in February they likely could have done a better job of creating more team friendly restructures or avoided restructuring entirely some older and/or questionable talent who the Cowboys will now be stuck with for at least one more season.
Romo is always a polarizing subject because he is a great statistical QB but has failed to win any meaningful games in his career. QB’s are often paid for winning and Romo’s $18 million APY is the first non-winning QB to really break the barrier. Prior to Romo’s deal the closest would have been Mike Vick’s $16 million per year average with the Eagles and then Phillip Rivers and Matt Schaub both making over $15 million. Romo’s $18 million likely sets a new floor point for players such as the Lions’ Matt Stafford who are younger than Romo but also showing limited team success.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.