Sources: Cowboys, Romo agree on 6-year, $67.5 million deal

Tony Romo didn't have to wait until the
offseason to get his big payday from the Dallas Cowboys after all.

The Cowboys and their quarterback have reached an agreement on a six-year, $67.5 million contract extension, $30 million of which is guaranteed, sources told ESPN's Ed Werder and ESPN.com's Matt Mosley on Monday. The deal includes an $11.5 million signing bonus.

"Right now, we're just talking, but it's closer than it was before," Romo said late Monday. "I feel like I'm going to be with
the Cowboys the rest of my career, definitely. I love it."

Romo's deal surpasses the six-year, $65 million contract ($27 million guaranteed) that St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger signed at the start of training camp. Romo and Bulger have the same agents, Ken Kremer and Tom Condon.

"It's a great feeling you have when the organization and the
people stand behind you, and you can be the quarterback for a long,
long time," Romo said. "It's a neat feeling that, 'You're our
guy, we like you.' ... It makes you feel good as a person and a

Teammates feel good about it, too.

"It's a sense of relief that he's got it out of the way,"
center Andre Gurode said. "Now he can move on with the season. I'm
happy he's going to be here for a long time."

Cowboys Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten has been Romo's closest friend on the team since the two entered the league in 2003.

"He signed for $10,000 and his chances were slim," Witten said. "I told my wife that if anyone deserves that type of money, it's Tony."

Witten joked that he's hoping to benefit from the deal.

"I'm going to talk to him about taking care of my initiation fees at a local golf club," he said. "And maybe he can get us room upgrades on the road now."

Linebacker Akin Ayodele considers Romo's payday a message that
the Cowboys are serious about returning to glory.

"He's the future of the team," Ayodele said. "To have him
signed, that's important because you want to establish your
quarterback who is going to lead you through things and win you

Romo was in the final year of his contract and could have become a free agent at the end of the season. By signing him to a new deal before Nov. 5, the Cowboys will be able to apply some of this money toward their 2007 salary cap.

Owner Jerry Jones could not be reached for comment.

Romo hoped to get a new deal this past summer.
Jones opted to let the relatively unproven quarterback go into his
first year in charge just to make sure he was worth a huge

The answer came quickly. Romo was the NFC's offensive player of
the month in September and Dallas finished October with the No. 1
offense in the conference.

Romo is in his fourth year in the NFL, but has started only 17
games. He's won 12 and done so in such dazzling fashion that Roger
Staubach's grandson likes wearing Romo's No. 9 jersey, not his
grandpa's No. 12.

"He's fun to watch," Staubach said recently.

Teammates agree. They often say that for all the great plays
he's pulled off in games -- like running back 33 yards to recover an
errant snap and turning it into a 4-yard gain -- he's done even more
in practices. That's why they rallied behind him so well when he
took over last season and why he was voted a team captain this

It's also why Dallas was able to pull off a comeback win in
Buffalo a few weeks ago, with Romo leading the charge even after it
was his five interceptions and a lost fumble that got the team in

"We definitely feed off him," Ayodele said. "You know you are
always in a game to win it."

Romo burst onto the scene last October, with coach Bill Parcells
sending him in to replace Drew Bledsoe at halftime of a Monday
night game against the New York Giants. His first pass was an
interception and that close game turned into a lopsided loss. Yet
his career was about to take off.

Dallas won five of his first six starts in such spectacular
fashion that some fans hung Romo's name on the Ring of Honor in
Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving. And that was before kickoff, which
meant prior to him matching a club record with five touchdown

Punter Mat McBriar was thrilled to hear about the contract Monday evening.

"It's well-deserved," he said."He had to battle through a lot things, and he almost got squeezed out at one point. But he stuck around and had a good attitude. I think it's a great story. Underdogs come through sometimes, and he's one of those."

This season, Romo already has set the club record for 300-yard
games. He leads the NFC with 1,984 yards passing and 16 touchdowns;
both are second in the NFL behind Tom Brady.

Pretty good for a guy who wasn't drafted coming out of Division
I-AA Eastern Illinois.

Cowboys scout Jim Hess recommended that the Cowboys sign Romo when he went undrafted. Fellow Eastern Illinois alum Sean Payton, then the Cowboys passing game coordinator, and assistant David Lee both played a large role in Romo's development. It was Lee, now the offensive coordinator at Arkansas, who changed the quarterback's throwing motion from a three-quarter delivery to more of an overhand style.

Lee noticed immediately that Romo had excellent footwork, and tried to build around that. If not for the release of Quincy Carter during the 2004 training camp, the world may have never known about Romo.

Carter had just led the team to the playoffs, and the Cowboys had traded a third-round draft choice to the Texans for Drew Henson. With Parcells favorite Vinny Testaverde on the roster, Romo may have been the odd man out.

With every great game Romo's had this season, Jones has known
the pricetag for the new contract was rising. He figured it was
worth it to reduce the risk. Besides, the better Romo does, the
more money the team makes.

"A lot of times, you don't have a choice, so you've got to make
a decision right there. But we have the luxury of time," Jones
said recently. "It fits him, too. It lets him have a better feel
for where he's going to be."

Being quarterback of "America's Team" has fit Romo quite

He's already dated country star Carrie Underwood and been linked
in gossip magazines to Jessica Simpson and, as of this past
weekend, Britney Spears. Romo spent his bye weekend in Los Angeles
and wound up at the same place as Spears, landing him back in the

"It comes with the territory, I guess," he said.

So do the big bucks.

Information from The Associated Press, ESPN television reporter Ed Werder and ESPN.com NFL writer Matt Mosley was used in this report.