The Cowboys will either trade or release Romo, allowing him to continue his career as a starting quarterback instead of as Dak Prescott ’s backup.
They believe Prescott will be even better in his second season than he was as a rookie, when he passed for 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions, leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record.
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton agrees with their assessment.
“I’m not even talking or discussing sophomore slumps,” Payton said on KESN-FM 103.3. “I’m looking at cutups and looking at improving and inserting some new thoughts and ideas.
“You shake his hand and you feel like he’s a guy who’s hard to get off his spot and that’s going to serve him well throughout his career.
“I like the look in his eye. When the game starts and you’re watching the game, you feel calm watching him play -- and that’s a good trait because you trust him.”
Griffin rushed for 815 yards and a 6.8 average per carry as a rookie and 489 yards in his second season. The Redskins made the zone-read a big part of their offense and the sinewy quarterback wound up getting hurt.
Griffin, Rookie of the Year after the 2012 season, is already in the journeyman phase of his career.
When former Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly’s offense made its NFL debut after dominating the college landscape, Foles threw 27 touchdowns with two interceptions in 2013 and averaged 9.1 yards per attempt.
Defensive coordinators spent that offseason dissecting the scheme and Foles threw 13 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in 2014.
History says Prescott will be just as effective next season. A look at the quarterbacks with the best rookie seasons since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 shows Griffin is the only one who didn’t sustain his level of play.
Prescott ran for a franchise-record six touchdowns last season, but he was an effective passer in the pocket. While he’s capable of being an effective runner, the Cowboys didn’t use that aspect of his ability as a foundation of their offense.
Prescott, the NFL’s offensive Rookie of the Year, completed 67.8 percent of his passes and had a 104.9 passer rating.
He probably had two poor games -- an overtime win over Philadelphia in October and a road loss to the New York Giants in December.
Each time, he responded with a strong performance the following week, leading the Cowboys to wins. In their playoff loss to Green Bay, Prescott passed for 302 yards with three touchdowns and an interception and rallied Dallas from an 18-point first-half deficit to tie the score at 31 with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve seen guys play early and play well,” Payton said. “I would say a lot of it is their mental capacity to learn. We’ve seen this now. It’s not unusual.
“Russell Wilson up in Seattle played early and played well. Prescott played early and well. [Carson] Wentz started off the season and had some good success [in Philadelphia].
“It depends on the player and the system. If you have a decent defense and you can run the ball somewhat effectively, those are two really good allies for that position.”
The Cowboys’ defense was among the league leaders in scoring defense last season, and Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards.
Add Prescott’s work ethic, which the coaching staff has continuously praised, and Payton believes Prescott makes the Cowboys a contender again in 2017.
“He minimizes the bad plays. He maximizes the good opportunities,” Payton said. “You totally feel like you’re watching someone in Year 4.
“His poise, his demeanor and his skill set are the things that make you realize, 'Hey, this guy is flying the plane and we’re going to be safe.’"