Tony Romo Is Cowboys’ Best Option at Quarterback Right Now, But Extension Would Be Bad Move for Franchise


Tony RomoThe Dallas Cowboys haven’t made the playoffs in three straight seasons and, even with a flurry of offseason moves already, could make that four in a row in 2013.

At the head of that problem is Jerry Jones, the eccentric owner who doesn’t know how to keep from meddling in player personnel, and just below him is head coach Jason Garrett, who has been anything but innovative since taking over the job midway through 2010. But after assessing the proper blame to both of the leaders of the Cowboys organization, the next person up would be quarterback Tony Romo.

Romo has always put up statistics that would make any fantasy owner’s mouth water. He has averaged better than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns in each of his six full seasons — not including his six-game injury-riddled stint in 2010 — and even maintained a 65 percent completion percentage throughout his career.

Those numbers alone consistently put him in the discussion with Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning and even Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the so-called “elite” category. Yet, his lone playoff win and inability to perform in the clutch keeps him in the company of Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub and the rest of the wannabes.

The glamorous stats on the field and Romo’s charming personality off it make him an attractive player for “America’s team,” but Romo simply isn’t the quarterback Dallas needs to return to its championship heyday. When the discussion of a Romo contract extension arose in Big D this year, the decision-makers should have taken a knee and headed straight for the locker rooms.

Sure, the Cowboys need a steady, reliable quarterback to lead their franchise into the future. But, going on 33, is Romo really that guy?

Even if he’s only making the $12 million to $14 million that Cutler and Schaub do per start, that’s a significant investment for a quarterback on the wrong side of 30. Not to mention, Romo matched a career high with 19 interceptions in 2012, which doesn’t bode well moving forward, either.

There is no question that right now, Romo is the best option for the Cowboys at the quarterback position. He knows the offense, Garrett believes in him, and he has a connection with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and the other receivers on Dallas’ roster. But now isn’t the time for Jones to be drowning five years and $50 million-plus in an aging quarterback. Rather, he should be looking at the draft for guys like Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and Tyler Wilson or at the trade market for guys like Alex Smith or Ryan Mallett.

The Cowboys have a roster set to compete — and even win — now, but Romo isn’t the guy who will get them to the promised land. Winning in the playoffs takes a certain type of quarterback, and winning the Super Bowl requires an even more particular player. If the Cowboys are as much about winning as they claim to be, then they have to make the tough decision and let Romo play out his final year in Dallas.

Who knows? Maybe he earns a new contract by proving doubters wrong, like Joe Flacco did this year. But realistically, Romo’s time in Dallas is done, or at least it should be, and the Cowboys need to realize that.

Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

Pick Six: The six biggest Trendsetters of the past week in the NFL

1. Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Down — Bowers was locked and loaded for takeoff on a promising young career, but instead he might have prison bars in his future. Too soon? My bad.

2. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, New England Patriots: Down — Speaking of trouble with the law, Dennard was found guilty of assault on a police officer and now leaves the Patriots in a precarious situation in the secondary. It’s just a tough position overall.

3. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets and Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks: Up — Revis and Sherman had themselves something of a Twitter war on Wednesday, exchanging quips and insults. You’ve gotta love the fire from two of the league’s best cornerbacks.

4. Roger Goodell: Down — The only reason Goodell is trending down relates to my envy of his massive salary. Plenty of people hate his 200 percent raise to a cool $30 million last season but, like me, they’re just jealous. A new collective bargaining agreement, no games missed and a lucrative TV deal — if you ask me, he earned it.

5. Charles Woodson, S, Green Bay Packers: Up — The Packers let Woodson go, which is a bit of a drag. But look on the bright side: He’ll be one of the most sought-after free agents on the market this offseason and will be all but guaranteed of having his pick of contenders for his next destination.

6. Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia Bulldogs: Down — Character is a major part of the evaluations at the combine, and a drunken driving arrest will make some teams skeptical of Ogletree. The gap he was building between he and fellow linebacker Manti Te’o has since closed.

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