People ask all the time about the status of the contract extension the Dallas Cowboys are going to end up giving quarterback Tony Romo. They ask sometimes as though there's still a question as to whether he'll get it. I consistently answer that he will, and that he should, and for a number of reasons (not the least of which would be the Cowboys' inability to upgrade if they let him leave at the end of the 2013 season), the team has no choice.
Perhaps this latest report, from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, will help convince those who still think it's possible they don't get this done. Ian's report says that the way Romo's contract is structured prohibits the Cowboys from designated him as their franchise player in 2014. The reason is that Romo's deal still has three more years on it, the final two of which will automatically void, but not until after the deadline for designating franchise players. So they can't tag him, and if the current league year ends without a new deal he'll be a free agent whose price will go through the roof.
Now, this seems like a ridiculous oversight by the Cowboys, but in truth they wouldn't reasonably have been able to franchise Romo next year anyway. The restructuring the team has done on Romo's contract over the years has pushed back a significant portion of his money into those voidable years, and his franchise number would be more than $25 million next year even if they could do it. So they realistically couldn't have done it even if the contract had been structured in such a way to allow for it.
The ultimate point here is a very simple one: Romo is going to get a very nice, long-term contract extension, likely this offseason. The team has been open about the fact that they are discussing this with Romo. They want him to be their quarterback for the rest of his career. They are confident they will get a deal done, and they don't share the fans' impatience because, a) they know huge deals like this take time and, b) they've been able to find ways to add a couple of key guys this week without reducing Romo's $16.8 million cap number for 2013. Once the new deal is done, that number will drop, and they can carry over unused savings into next year's cap if they like.
What Ian's report underlines is the extent to which Romo has the leverage in these talks. The Cowboys need to sign him long-term, for a number of reasons, and he knows it. So why not wait and see what the new deals look like for guys like Joe Flacco (who's already signed his), Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan? Romo's not going to make what those guys make, but they're going to set the top end of the quarterback market and give Romo and his agents useful numbers off of which to work. The only problem Romo has is if he gets into the 2013 season and gets hurt in his contract year and kills his chances of free agency. But that's a deadline that's still more than five months away. In the meantime, Romo is in no rush and doesn't need to be. He's the one holding the cards.
This is a deal that will get done. It's 100 percent certain. And when it does, it's going to be a very nice deal for Tony Romo.