Predicting Tony Romo's new contract

Tony Romo will sign a long-term contract with the Dallas Cowboys. This is all but certain. And given the Cowboys' salary-cap concerns, it's likely to happen this offseason, so as to reduce his 2013 salary in exchange for more money down the line and give Dallas room to operate on this spring's market. So the question is how much Romo should get from the Cowboys, and in light of Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco seeking $20 million a year from the Baltimore Ravens, it's a question Calvin Watkins has taken up in his latest entry for ESPNDallas.com:

Does Romo's agent look at what Flacco is about to get and say his client is better? Or does Romo, whose average salary is $12.7 million, get more of an average salary in the range of say Matt Schaub, whose average is $13.2 million? What about Philip Rivers, who gets an average salary of $14.03 million?

Romo's salary could be in line with Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who also becomes a free agent after the 2013 season. Cutler might command an average salary of $15-18 million. Do the Cowboys push Romo to that number?

I think Rivers is a pretty good comparison for Romo, though (obviously until the final game) Romo had a considerably better 2012 season than Rivers did. Romo's lack of playoff success keeps him out of the upper echelon, and for good reason, but he's a better player than Schaub and Cutler, and if Cutler's really going to get to $15 million or more, Romo might be tempted to hold out a while and see how that situation settles. But there is big risk in that, since Romo's contract runs out after 2013, and the security of a deal that goes beyond that is likely to tempt him more.

My guess is he gets four more years added on after this one -- a deal that runs through 2017 -- at a little more than $14 million per year. Seems fair all the way around. Had he not thrown three interceptions in the season finale in Washington, and had he capped his very good 2012 season with a division title, maybe he could have made the case for more. But he did throw those interceptions, and he lost that game, feeding into the negatives about himself, which the Cowboys are sure to mention when it comes time to talk money.