Tony Romo just cashed in big. His new contract with CBS will pay him $17 million per year to stay with the network, as first reported by the New York Post. It’s quite the upgrade from Romo’s former salary. He previously earned $4 million a year on a contract he signed when he joined the network in 2017.
In January, it was reported Romo was being pursued by ESPN to join its Monday Night Football broadcast crew, which featured Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore in 2019. In 2018, Jason Witten was the booth analyst after Jon Gruden returned to coach the Oakland Raiders. It would’ve been a coup d’état for MNF to land Romo, who could’ve given the venerable program a much-needed boost.
But Romo sticking with CBS isn’t all that surprising. The network had the first right of refusal, which essentially means it had the right to match any offers that he was entertaining. It also signed him to the new contract before he became a free agent.
Romo is now the highest-paid broadcaster in television history. While the deal is equally significant given that the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback has been in the booth for just three seasons, Romo has found his place in broadcasting with ease.
Romo’s ability to predict plays before they happen is one of his strongest and most unique skillsets.
“Romostradamus” has been telegraphing plays since his first year as announcer. This immediately set him apart from the several other former QBs turned color analysts, like Dan Fouts, Rich Gannon, Phil Simms, and Troy Aikman.
One of the most impressive calls he had was the following season, in the AFC Championship between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. In the fourth quarter, he said the Pats would run the ball instead of a QB sneak on fourth-and-inches:
“Oh, they’re killing it. Usually means a motion and a run out wide to the right.” - Tony Romo before Patriots' play— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) January 21, 2019
Brady motions; Sony Michel runs ball to right, scores touchdown. pic.twitter.com/PzxyrV2JoO
“My eyes might be going to which linebackers are moving, which nickelback or safety is getting to the line,” Romo said of what he looks at on a given play in a 2018 interview with Sports Illustrated. “My eyes might move to the coverage, and then you look at the coverage and you all of sudden find quickly what they could run out of a certain pre-snap look. Then your eyes might take a peek at the defensive ends.
“Let’s say it is [Raiders linebacker] Khalil Mack. Are they going to give him help here, or is he going one-on-one [against a defender]? Because if he is going one-on-one there is a good chance that the quarterback is running something quick, especially if it is a good coaching staff on offense.”
He also successfully predicted the Patriots would run a trick play during a 2019 game against the Eagles, saying, “they always have something unique on something like this”:
"now you have to have some cool play. the problem is, all the cool plays take time" -- Tony Romo, seconds before this Julian Edelman TD pass to Phillip Dorsett pic.twitter.com/VlhKgFdDSZ— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) November 17, 2019
Romo’s 14 years of experience as an NFL quarterback certainly helps him to call out plays before they happen. But he’s likely only going to get more comfortable with it as he studies more teams’ schemes and tendencies.
One of the best parts about Romo in the booth is he sometimes can’t contain his excitement.
There is a cat on the field and Tony Romo's commentary is pure gold! pic.twitter.com/fLIy0yQ0SB— NFL UK (@NFLUK) October 27, 2017
He started out by teasing his partner in the booth Jim Nantz, “This is like how you ran in high school.” Then he followed it by providing commentary as if the cat was a football player: “Does he get both feet right here at the end, Jim? He’s in!”
In 2019, his sound effects while watching Lamar Jackson embarrass defenders was equally entertaining:
My personal favorite is when the CBS camera panned to someone in the crowd of a Bills-Patriots wearing a Grinch costume, and Romo casually said it was Bill Belichick:
No idea how I missed this Romo line during the season. Hilarious. pic.twitter.com/OsRpJB7ORI— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) January 19, 2018
The comedic timing of Romo here is just absolutely brilliant.
One of my favorite parts about Romo in the booth is when he’s joking around, he’s just having fun in a sincere way. It’s nothing that sounds forced or pre-planned — it’a authentic, which isn’t that easy to find in broadcasting.
Romo has solidified himself as one of the NFL’s best color commentators, and CBS gave him the money to back that up.
Romo has good chemistry with Nantz and at just 39 years old, Romo’s TV career is just getting started. A contract worth reportedly more than $100 million is a lot for an announcer, but it’s understandable that CBS didn’t want Romo to go anywhere. He could be a staple of the network’s football coverage for a long time.
In his NFL career, Romo earned just over $127 million and averaged $9.1 million per year, according to Over the Cap. In 2013, he signed a $108 million contract with the Cowboys that was supposed to go over six years, though he retired after the 2016 season.
By comparison, his new contract with CBS might turn heads. However, Romo has earned his big raise with the insight and personality he brings to the broadcast booth every Sunday.