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Destination Romo: All the places Tony could go

Where will Tony Romo play in 2017? Here's a complete breakdown of the most probable teams and scenarios ... a full dozen.

Destination Romo

Where will Tony Romo play in 2017? Here's a breakdown of the most probable teams and scenarios ... a dozen of them.

The biggest question hanging over the NFL this offseason is the future of Tony Romo. With Dak Prescott locked in as the Cowboys' future at quarterback, if Tony wants to play, he'll need to be elsewhere. And Dallas has some incentive to move on.

Romo's current contract, which expires in 2019, makes him tough to trade, but also tough to keep. He is scheduled to make $14 million in 2017 and $40 million more over the final two seasons. Designating Romo as a post-June 1 release would grant the Cowboys some salary-cap relief, costing them only $10.7 million of their 2017 cap by allowing them to roll $8.9 million of Romo's dead money over into 2018. If the Cowboys release him before June 1, however, it would cost them $19.6 million in cap space in 2017 alone.

So where will Romo play this season? Here are the teams in play ... including the Cowboys.

Buffalo Bills

Why this could work

The Bills aren't likely to pick up Tyrod Taylor's option. Plus, new head coach Sean McDermott could switch things up on offense. There's an argument to be made that the Bills are only a quarterback away from the playoffs, and Tony Romo could make this a win-win for both parties.

Why it couldn't

With the Bills likely to part ways with the quarterback who elevated the offense, ranking ninth in Total QBR in 2016 and seventh in 2015, it's hard to imagine they would then go for Romo: an older quarterback with a history of injuries who hasn't played a full season since 2014.

Probability of being Romo's destination?

Long shot, but not impossible.

Chicago Bears

Why this could work

The Bears are likely to move on from quarterback Jay Cutler, which would open up $13 million worth of salary-cap space. They could replace Cutler by committing a second-round pick to acquiring a younger quarterback, perhaps in a trade with the Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo ... or they could sign Romo and spend that second-round pick on a rookie to groom behind him. John Fox's job security as head coach looks good, which is an important note for a team with other positions in flux.

Why it couldn't

Signing Romo isn't a long-term solution for the Bears, and the Bears aren't the short-term solution Romo would need to contend for a Super Bowl in what's left of his career. They do have a core group of players, but it's unclear whether the team will even be in shape to win in the next couple of seasons.

Probability of being Romo's destination?

Realistic chance.

Cleveland Browns

Why this could work

The Browns need a lot of work, but namely, they need a guy at the most important position on the field. Robert Griffin III has one more year left on his contract, but Hue Jackson has yet to make a decision about Griffin's future with the Browns. If they take a quarterback like Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 pick in the draft, they could bring Romo on to start until the younger guy is ready.

Why it couldn't

The answer to Cleveland's quarterback woes is not as simple as Romo, who turns 37 in April and would be a short-term solution. There is also little to no incentive awaiting Romo in Cleveland. The Browns are simply too young and will not be ready to contend before the end of his current contract in 2019. He cannot win in Cleveland.

Probability of being Romo's destination?

Long shot, but not impossible.

Dallas Cowboys

Why this could work

Owner Jerry Jones could resolve the Cowboys' salary-cap issues by redoing Romo's deal, giving him a three-year contract at $21 million to be the backup. It would be the best of both worlds for Dallas: keeping Romo and Dak Prescott. Plus, options available outside of Dallas that would offer Romo a legitimate chance to contend are limited.

Why it couldn't

Even if the Cowboys were able to work out a deal with Romo closer to the three-year, $21 million contract suggested above, $7 million a year is still on the expensive side for a backup quarterback. There is also the matter of Romo saying he still wants to play and compete, neither of which will happen if he stays in Dallas.

Probability of being Romo's destination?

Realistic chance.

Denver Broncos

Why this could work

General manager John Elway thinks the Broncos are close to returning to the Super Bowl, but it remains to be seen how close Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch are to being the quarterback they'd need to lead them back into contention. Romo could be the guy to make it happen sooner rather than later. Plus, the Broncos already did it with Peyton Manning and proved it could end with a ring.

Why it couldn't

Romo would be an expensive short-term fix for the Broncos. Plus, the chances of Elway bringing on another veteran quarterback not named Peyton Manning seem slim. The Broncos could use the money it would cost them to sign Romo to instead sustain their roster for the long haul.

Probability of being Romo's destination?

Long shot, but not impossible.

Houston Texans

Why this could work

Brock Osweiler did little to prove himself as the presumed starter, leaving room for Romo to slide into place on a playoff-caliber team. With one of the best defenses in the NFL (which is about to return one of the most dominant players in J.J. Watt), Romo could realistically contend for a championship in Houston.

Why it couldn't

The Texans have $16 million in guaranteed money tied up in Osweiler for the 2017 season. It's likely they keep him through 2017 and release him before the 2018 season kicks off, as that would cost them only $6 million in dead money. But that wouldn't leave much room for another starting quarterback like Romo, who would require starting quarterback money.

Probability of being Romo's destination?

Long shot, but not impossible.

Kansas City Chiefs

Why this could work

Alex Smith has been good enough for the regular season, but the Chiefs are only 1-3 in the playoffs with him under center and could very well be a quarterback upgrade away from deepening their run into the postseason and, ultimately, winning a Super Bowl. Romo could be the boost Kansas City needs to contend, and the Chiefs could be the team Romo needs to give him a real chance at a championship before he retires.

Why it couldn't

Trying to squeeze Romo's contract into an already-challenging salary-cap situation would be one obstacle. Not to mention the concern that applies to any team considering signing the veteran: Romo hasn't started a game since 2015, let alone played a full season since 2014. There is no way of really knowing whether he could be that upgrade at quarterback the Chiefs need.

Probability of being Romo's destination?

Long shot, but not impossible.

New York Jets

Why this could work

The Jets started three different quarterbacks in 2016. Ryan Fitzpatrick won three of 11 starts and finished 29th overall in Total QBR, tossing 17 interceptions to his 12 touchdowns. They went from 10-6 to 5-11. The Jets need help, starting at the quarterback position. The team is likely to go outside the organization to find a solution, as the next two guys in line -- Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg -- don't appear ready to be that.

Why it couldn't

Romo could be the solution to bouncing back from a sub-.500 season, but the role age played on the Jets' roster last season cannot be ignored. It's already an older roster, filled with 30-plus-year-old players ... and Romo will be 37 years old when the season begins.

Probability of being Romo's destination?

Realistic chance.

San Francisco 49ers

Why this could work

Colin Kaepernick's spot on the roster is tenuous at best. The 49ers could release or trade him, making Romo a replacement option. There's a case to be made that Kyle Shanahan has played a significant role in elevating the Atlanta Falcons' offense and deserves some credit for their turnaround from a .500 team in 2015 to a Super Bowl team in 2016. At the very least, his presence could spike Romo's curiosity.

Why it couldn't

This is a 2-14 team that has changed coaches three years in a row and will be in full rebuild mode under Shanahan. The 49ers are more than a year away from winning ... and a few more away from contending. Going to San Francisco could render Romo's chance of winning a Super Bowl ring all but impossible.

Probability of being Romo's destination?

Long shot, but not impossible.

Other long shots

Washington Redskins

Is it a long shot? Of course. But consider this scenario: The Redskins decide not to franchise Kirk Cousins, or even work out a trade to, say, reunite him with old pal Kyle Shanahan. Short a QB, the Redskins persuade free agent Romo to win a familiar division.

Arizona Cardinals

Carson Palmer says he's coming back, but if he were to change his mind or deal with an injury in August, Arizona is an obvious fit. Palmer's situation is a reminder the Cowboys don't necessarily have to move Romo, or move on, now.

Jacksonville Jaguars

For one, Blake Bortles is still around, and who says Romo would want to jump into a rebuild? On the other hand, say the new coach thinks Bortles will continue to be as bad as he's been, and the organization sells Romo on a young team that can grow up in a hurry?

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