WASHINGTON — With a mighty boot of the football, Mason Crosby and the Green Bay Packers eliminated the Dallas Cowboys from the playoffs, officially kicking off the offseason in the NFC East.
It didn’t take long for speculation to percolate, as the media asked Cowboys owner Jerry Jones about quarterback Tony Romo’s future early in his press conference. Jones handled the question diplomatically, downplaying any quick resolution.
“We don’t need to get into that tonight,” Jones said. “We’ll obviously look at what we’re doing. We won’t do it tomorrow, we won’t do it the next day. But we’ll look at where we are relative to Tony and relative to other players. But not tonight.”
Romo has made it clear that he does not want to back up rookie Dak Prescott, who solidified his resume with a stellar performance on Sunday. In fact, Prescott’s stat line (24/38, 302 yards, three touchdowns, interception, 103.2 passer rating) compares favorably to any postseason performance for Romo.
The team has hinted at a willingness to facilitate a trade out of respect to the longtime Cowboy, and has indicated that it will work with him to find a contender, is he doesn’t choose to retire.
Why couldn’t a match be found in Washington?
It seems outlandish, and it likely is: the Cowboys would be loath to trade Romo within the division and risk seeing him at least twice each season. Also, it just seems…wrong.
But from a receiving end, the Redskins would be an intriguing landing spot for the aging four-time Pro Bowler, assuming that a deal with Kirk Cousins falls apart completely. Here are the logical pros and cons:
Romo to D.C. Pros
Romo’s contract is manageable: Romo has a backloaded deal, but his three years, $54 million remaining are a solid middle option if the Redskins don’t want to franchise tag or work a long-term deal with Cousins (whose tag number this year would approach $24 million). Romo will likely balance renegotiating his contract on his likelihood of winning, so the Redskins would have leverage to bring this number down.
Romo is a bounce-back candidate: Romo has health concerns (addressed below) but is still a consistent regular season performer. In his career, he is 78-49 in the regular season and only once (2010) led his team to a losing record. He is only two injury-riddled seasons removed from a Pro Bowl campaign in 2014, when he led the NFL in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating.
He wants to prove the Cowboys wrong: Sorry D.C. sports fans, but the Cowboys see the Giants as their top division rival. But Dallas Week is special for Redskins players and fans, and nothing would raise the stakes of a rivalry like Romo switching sides. It happened at least once, when the Cowboys traded for Redskin Eddie LeBaron, making him their first quarterback in franchise history.
Romo to D.C. Cons
Cousins has a brighter future: Cousins has yet to unlock his full NFL potential, but at age 36, it’s unlikely that Romo ever will. While he is a brilliant regular season performer, Romo has never performed well enough in the playoffs to believe he will put it together somewhere else. If the team has concerns about Cousins leading them to a Super Bowl, those doubts have to be higher for Romo, whose best chance to win now would likely be in Denver.
Romo’s injury history is troubling: It’s not just that Romo has sustained major injuries in each of the last two seasons. It’s that he got injured behind the best offensive line in the NFL. No team has invested more in the trenches than the Cowboys, and Romo still sustained major contact injuries. The Redskins have developed a good line, but this would be a dangerous situation.
Trade compensation: With Cousins or any other free agent option, the Redskins invest only salary to get the deal done. With Romo, the Redskins would have to send players or draft picks in exchange. Well-run organizations don’t trade for aging stars and hope for the best, they hoard draft picks. They also draft and develop talented players before signing them to long-term deals.
Romo to D.C. would be a very tough pill for Redskins fans to swallow, and it should only be considered if Cousins makes a surprise jump in free agency. But if Romo was the best option available, the Redskins could do much worse.