The Dallas Cowboys have released Tony Romo and relinquished the rights to him, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder. The announcement came Tuesday, after the news that Romo would retire from the NFL and pursue a new career in broadcasting with CBS.
Romo will be designated as a post-June 1 cut, which means the Cowboys will be able to spread his $19.6 million in dead money over two seasons.
The Cowboys released a statement Tuesday afternoon about Romo’s release and wished him well in this next phase of his career.
“Tony has been a wonderful representative of the Cowboys organization for 14 years, and he left everything he had on the field,” owner Jerry Jones said in the statement. He will leave us with many great memories and a legacy of being, truly, one of the greatest players in Cowboys history.
“We are thrilled for him and his family that he will be able to continue working as a professional in the game he so dearly loves.”
Head coach Jason Garrett commended Romo for his “relentless spirit,” and said Romo has had a significant impact on Garrett’s life.
“It has been one of the great privileges of my life to work with Tony Romo, one of the greatest players in Dallas Cowboys history,” Garrett said.
What’s next for the Cowboys and Romo?
This doesn’t change much for either side. The Cowboys will move forward with Dak Prescott at quarterback, and Romo will join Jim Nantz in the booth as an analyst for CBS.
The Cowboys get a little extra cap space in June
The post-June 1 designation means Dallas gets an extra $14 million in cap space this year, but not until after June 1. Romo’s cap hit will be assessed over two seasons. The Cowboys will absorb $10.7 million in dead money against the cap this year and $8.9 million in 2018.
The Cowboys could have placed Romo on the reserve/retired list, and by choosing to release him instead, they no longer hold the rights to him. If Romo decided to come out of retirement, he would be free to sign with any team.
Romo is headed for the broadcast booth
Romo had already made up his mind to go into broadcasting, and he had his pick of networks. NBC and Fox were reportedly interested, and CBS wanted him to replace Phil Simms. CBS is where Romo will land.
The Cowboys actually did Romo a favor by releasing him, though: It means he got to keep his $5 million signing bonus.
But since he’s not officially retired yet, he could pull a Brett Favre and change his mind. Now that he’s a free agent, he could technically sign with whichever passer-needy team needs him most.
The four-time Pro Bowler has been linked to the Broncos and Texans, two teams with dominant defenses but serious questions behind center. If healthy, Romo can provide veteran leadership and steady, upper-tier passing. With three NFC East titles under his belt as a starter, the soon-to-be 37-year-old knows how to win — at least in the regular season.
Romo came to terms with his departure from the only franchise he’s called home in the weeks leading up to his release. He posted a heartfelt goodbye to Dallas fans in an Instagram post early in March to show how much his time with the Cowboys meant.
Romo leaves the Cowboys with a few franchise records
Romo holds franchise records for the Cowboys in passing yards with 34,183, touchdowns with 248, and completion percentage with 65.3. He’s inarguably one of the best quarterbacks in Cowboys history.
Injuries were a problem late in his career, and Romo only played in five games his last two seasons. He led the league in completion rate and quarterback rating three years ago, but a pair of collarbone injuries limited him to only four games in 2015. A broken bone in his back cost him the first half of 2016 — and gave rookie fourth-round pick Dak Prescott the opportunity to unseat him as the team’s starter.
Prescott was spectacular, leading Dallas to a 13-3 finish and the top seed in the NFC and earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Prescott’s play confirmed that he’s the Cowboys’ quarterback of the future, and Romo’s contract made it impractical for Dallas to find a way to retain him.
Romo only had one losing season as the Cowboys’ starter, and that was in 2010 when injuries limited him to just six games. His 78-49 record takes a drastic downturn when you look at his experience in the playoffs. He’s just 2-4 when games count the most, and never guided Dallas beyond the Divisional round.
It sounds like Romo is settled on moving on from football, but if he changes his mind, the potential he brings far outweighs that of journeyman passers like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, or Blaine Gabbert. Romo could have his share of suitors now that his time in Dallas has come to a close.