IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the other day that every decision the team will make regarding the draft will be with the idea that Tony Romo will be quarterback for the next four or five years.
He also painted the picture of a perfect quarterback handoff of sorts, should the Cowboys select a quarterback in the draft next month be it with the fourth overall pick or subsequent rounds.
In 2005, Brett Favre turned 36. Same as Romo this year. He was also entering his 14th season in the NFL. Same as Romo this year with the Cowboys.
The Green Bay Packers had no intention of drafting a quarterback in the first round in 2005, but they never dreamed they would see Aaron Rodgers be available at No. 24 overall. So despite Favre’s success (Green Bay made the playoffs from 2001-04) and durability (Google his consecutive-games-played streak), the Packers chose Rodgers.
“You look at examples of Rodgers and you look at the example that he got to come in there and work behind Favre,” Jones said. “Rodgers came from a different system in college. He saw the most freewheeling successful quarterback there’s ever been in this league. He saw that work. He added that to his game. It helped him become even more the type in that system than when he came in. Something like that could happen if we decided to go quarterback at some level. I emphasize that – at some level.”
The Favre-Rodgers relationship was a frosty one. Rodgers played in seven games in his first three seasons. It wasn’t until Favre was knocked out of a game in 2007 against the Cowboys by Nate Jones that Green Bay got a sure taste of what Rodgers could be.
In 2008, Favre retired and then ultimately was traded to the New York Jets.
Rodgers has started every game he has played since and has led the Packers to the playoffs the last seven years.
The Cowboys tried several different routes in their quarterback search after Troy Aikman’s retirement before lucking into Romo. The first option was drafting Quincy Carter in the second round in 2001. Then they signed Chad Hutchinson off the baseball field. They also traded for Drew Henson, who was a New York Yankees farmhand at the time.
They then went the veteran route with Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe.
Seven games into the 2006 season, Bill Parcells gave Romo the job and he has been the unquestioned starter ever since.
For the last two seasons, Jones has had a 4-5 year plan with Romo. He joked that the plan was put on hold in 2015 because Romo missed 12 games with a broken collarbone, so it extended another year.
The Cowboys believe Romo benefited greatly from sitting his first three seasons, but then again, there were no expectations of him as an undrafted free agent in 2003. They also believe that by watching, Romo extended his career to a degree because he was not getting beaten up as a young quarterback.
A first-round pick, especially at No. 4 overall, would have franchise-quarterback expectations. Being forced to learn behind Romo for however long would be a benefit to that quarterback, Jones said.
“If a player came in here and played behind him 3-4 years, he would come out with a Harvard degree in how to play quarterback, in my mind,” Jones said. “He would be that influential. And it would open up an area of how to play the game that we all would agree has a certain unique style to it, Romo. Just like, say, Favre did with Rodgers. That’s in my mind. That can be very impressionable and really be a big positive. So when I’m sitting there thinking about which way to go here, the ability to with Romo there and the ability to have a top talent learning behind that team and with Romo, it‘s a big asset.”