INDIANAPOLIS – Sure, Jason Garrett fielded a few questions Wednesday about the Cowboys’ pre-draft process – the most timely subject this week given the organization’s presence in Indy scouting the nation’s best prospects.
But the vast majority of Garrett’s 15-minute visit with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine centered on the most-speculated topic of the team’s offseason:
Specifically, Tony Romo’s status with the only football team he has played for as a professional.
“Tony’s been a great football player for us for a number of years,” Garrett said. “And we’ll take his situation as it comes here over the next few weeks. But being our starting quarterback since 2006 and what he’s done for us, both on and off the field, he’s been outstanding and we’ll see how his situation plays out over the next few weeks.”
Garrett answered 10 straight Romo-related questions at Wednesday’s press conference. He said he believes Romo, who turns 37 next month, can still play at a high level coming off two straight seasons plagued by back and collarbone injuries.
But the topic of Romo’s football future – in Dallas or perhaps with another team – won’t go away until a resolution is reached. The Cowboys have Romo under contract through 2019, but in his only comments to reporters during the season – a prepared statement last October in which he said rookie Dak Prescott had earned the right to be the team’s starting quarterback – Romo also said he still had a desire to compete.
Therein lies the Cowboys’ quandary, fueling speculation on whether the team could decide to release or attempt to trade Romo as the March 9 start of the new league year nears: Prescott established himself as the team’s quarterback of the present and future.
After Romo returned from a fractured back, Prescott still started the remaining eight games (counting playoffs). He led the Cowboys to a franchise-record tying 13 wins and won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Romo appeared on one drive during the 2016 season: the regular-season finale at Philadelphia, where he led the offense to a touchdown with the Cowboys resting Prescott for the playoffs.
Garrett said he last spoke to Romo right after the Cowboys’ divisional-round loss to the Green Bay Packers.
“Very positive,” Garrett said. “We kind of talked through the year a little bit and obviously it was a challenging year for him. To get hurt and not be a part of the team this year as the starting quarterback, for a guy who is as competitive and as accomplished as he has been, it wasn’t easy. But he handled the situation really well, put the team first, when he was able to come back and be healthy he embraced the role of being the backup and being ready to play if called upon.”
Garrett was asked Wednesday if a decision on Romo could be made before March 9, when the league’s free agency and trading period begins.
“Hard to know that,” Garrett said. “He’ll have some conversations with Jerry Jones and they’ll work through what that specific situation is in regards to what we think is best for the Dallas Cowboys, what’s best for Tony Romo. There’s a lot of different factors involved.”
Speaking to reporters at the Combine on Tuesday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he anticipates a meeting between Romo and Jerry Jones “sooner than later.”
In the meantime, the outside chatter will continue. Read