Tony Romo is hanging up the cleats to join the CBS broadcast booth. Or at least, that’s the plan for now. At least one team believes Romo could be pulled out of retirement if a starter gets hurt
With the Dallas Cowboys releasing Romo on Tuesday, the quarterback is officially on the market and available for any team to try to woo him out of retirement. But with a nice job at CBS and a history of injuries, there’s not much reason for Romo to second-guess his decision to walk away from the game.
But Romo has reportedly left the door open just a crack, and that’s more than enough to keep the NFL speculation machine running at full speed:
Source: Tony Romo is "retiring" from football to pursue broadcasting, BUT if Cowboys ever REALLY needed him, he'd consider coming back.— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) April 4, 2017
At a press conference Tuesday announcing his move to CBS, Romo said he looked forward to his job with the network, but he also mentioned the interest he had in the Houston Texans and said he’ll still have the itch to keep playing:
Tony Romo: "I don't know that the competitive fire is ever gonna go away." Then raises Brett Favre as an example of that.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 4, 2017
Dak Prescott will turn 24 this offseason. He never missed a game during his rookie season and only missed two games in his college career at Mississippi State. He’s also playing behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines with his blindside protected by four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith.
Football is a sport full of injuries, but Prescott is about as low risk for injuries as players in the NFL get. The odds that the Cowboys will ever really need Romo to return are low.
But starting quarterbacks get injured all the time in the NFL. And if it’s not Prescott, another team’s quarterback will inevitably go down and that team will scrape the bottom of the barrel for a replacement.
In 2015, the Indianapolis Colts turned to Josh Freeman as a starter just days after signing him away from the Brooklyn Bolts of Fall Experimental Football League. After four trips to the Pro Bowl, 34,183 career passing yards, and 248 touchdowns, there’s no doubt Romo is a far better option than that even at age 37.
His phone will undoubtedly ring at some point during the 2017 season with calls from desperate teams, and the knowledge that he’s ever considered the possibility of returning is enough to fuel speculation, even if it will take a lot to get him back on the football field.
Leaving the top analyst spot at CBS during the season isn’t as easy as Jon Kitna leaving his job as a high school math teacher to be a backup for the Cowboys in 2013. Giving up his spot in the broadcast booth next to Jim Nantz could prove to be a costly decision for Romo if he chooses to leave.
So it’d have to be for the right team with the right situation. He doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring, so it’d have to be a contender calling, and even that might not be enough.
If Prescott ever went down, it would be a disaster for Dallas. But you better believe Jerry Jones would be quick to try to pull Romo back into the fold and see if he could send out the quarterback on top. Even when the Cowboys were bulldozing through competition with a seemingly infallible rookie quarterback, Jones was dreaming of confetti falling on Romo’s head at Super Bowl 51.
“What a story, one for the ages, if he'd step in there and this year help us win a Super Bowl on the field with his skill,” Jones told the New York Daily News during the 2016 season. “That can happen here. We're not talking about a bus driver out there. We're talking about a guy who can go out there and move our team."
Realistically, Romo is probably done. But the slim chance that he could be swayed and the almost certain chance that a star quarterback will get injured means the Romo speculation isn’t likely to die anytime soon.