Dak Prescott, the stranglehold he’s put on the Dallas Cowboys’ starting quarterback job and what it means for the future of former Cowboys starting QB Tony Romo, is one of the biggest stories in the NFL this season.
There is no question Prescott is the starter and Romo his backup for the foreseeable future, and assuming good health, he'll remain the starter through the end of the season, which most likely will come some time during the playoffs or at the Super Bowl.
That has led to a new favorite pastime among NFL Insiders and analysts: trying to predict where Romo will play in 2017.
Romo is playing the good soldier now, understanding the situation and doing everything he can to support Prescott while his insides are churning and burning up with the competitive fire to be back on the field.
In his uber-classy statement acknowledging the present reality, Romo said as much, that he definitely wanted to start again somewhere before he’s through.
The Way We Hear It, that is most likely to happen for him next season right where he is – in Dallas – either due to an injury to Prescott or a fall off in his play.
While others conject about theories that send him to Denver, Houston, Chicago, the Jets or elsewhere based on the belief that Dallas owner Jerry Jones has such respect and fondness for him he will make whatever outcome Romo wants possible, we’re hearing that when Jones talks about Romo playing five more years in Dallas – which he has – and leading the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, it’s because that’s exactly what he wants and expects to happen.
Even though Romo’s base salary drops to $14.5 million in 2017 to be supplemented by a couple of million dollars in roster bonuses, Romo will count almost $25 million against the Cowboys cap next year as a Cowboy, and just over $20 million against the Cowboys cap even if he’s no longer with the team.
We’re hearing Jones will be loathe to take a $20 million cap hit for a player he doesn’t have, particularly when it would leave him in need of a backup quarterback with third-stringer Mark Sanchez a free agent after this season. Who is he going to get that will be close to Romo?
What makes things even more interesting is Prescott, in the second year of a fourth-round draft choice contract, will have a base salary of just $540,000. When you combine the salaries due Romo and Prescott for 2017, the $15.04 million base is less than any starting quarterback in the league not playing on a rookie contract except for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The next question becomes, even if Jones doesn’t want to deal Romo, what kind of haul would he be giving up by keeping Romo?
Yes, the Eagles got first- and third-round picks for 29-year old Sam Bradford.
The Packers got a third-round draft choice for a then-39-year-old Brett Favre when they traded him to the Jets in 2008, but Favre had never missed a game.
Romo will turn 37 the week before the 2017 college draft having not played a game this season, at least eight of them lost to injury, and he played just four games in 2015 due to injury.
While guesses about his trade value are all over the board according to NFL people we’ve talked to, the consensus seems to be a conditional pick that lands somewhere between the third and sixth round.
Finally, there is the issue of whether Romo wants to play for various teams that might be willing to deal for him.
Everything we’re hearing is that Romo is most likely to remain a Cowboy next year, and with everything we know about life at quarterback in the NFL, it is also most likely he has yet to take his final snap for Jones.