By Mark Lane (@therealmarklane)
LAS VEGAS — Bovada, an online betting service, predicts Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will be with the Denver Broncos when the 2017 NFL season kicks off on Sept. 10.
The Broncos lead the way with 3-1 odds. The Kansas City Chiefs are second with 7-2 odds, and the Houston Texans are in third with 5-1 odds. Curiously, the Cowboys are fourth with 6-1 odds.
Denver seemingly has the most need for stability at quarterback while also being a great organization with a track record of taking care of franchise signal callers in their late thirties. Denver missed the playoffs while posting a 9-7 record with the likes of second-year Trevor Siemian seeing his first NFL action and rookie Paxton Lynch filling in when Siemian was sidelined with injury for two games. Siemian posted an 8-6 mark while Lynch had a 1-1 record. Not to mention Romo was seen during Inauguration Weekend with John Elway. The interest could be there between Romo and the Broncos.
Kansas City, the Broncos’ AFC West rival, currently has a franchise quarterback under contract with Alex Smith set to count $16.9 million against the Chiefs’ salary cap in 2017. The problem with Smith is he has a 1-3 playoff record and is playing for one of the best offensive-oriented head coaches in the past 20 years in Andy Reid. The Chiefs offense under performs with Smith, and the missing piece could be Romo.
The Texans would make the most sense out of any team for Romo, but they currently have Brock Osweiler as their titular franchise quarterback. Osweiler, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal to go to Houston in 2016 when clearly the Broncos had intentions for him to succeed Peyton Manning, is set to count $19 million against Houston’s salary cap. If the Texans were to part with Osweiler in favor of Romo, it would cost them $25 million against their salary cap. Currently, the Texans have $24.4 million in cap space, and parting with Osweiler would evaporate that margin.
If the Texans were to keep both Osweiler and Romo, then the fifth-year quarterback with a playoff win in his own right would be right back where he was with Denver in 2015. After replacing Manning and going 5-2 and leading the Broncos to home-field advantage, head coach Gary Kubiak replaced him with Manning during the Broncos’ postseason march to a 24-10 victory in Super Bowl 50. The ramifications were Osweiler ditched Denver in the off-season for a new start in Houston. If the Texans acquired Romo and kept Osweiler, it would be the same situation for the Arizona State alumnus that he ran away from in Denver.
The fourth-leading option of Romo staying with the Cowboys seems inconceivable. For Romo to stay in Dallas, he would have to concede his intentions of competing with second-year quarterback Dak Prescott for the starting job. Similarly, his contract would have to reflect as such. Romo is set to count $24.7 million against the Cowboys’ salary cap this season. The 36-year-old would have to rework his contract to help Dallas avoid such a big cap hit, even Romo would be the best backup quarterback in the league.
The option of retirement for Romo is absent from Bovada’s betting options, which is a huge factor in Romo’s future. Since 2013, the Eastern Illinois product has had two back surgeries, two fractures in his back, and two broken left clavicles. The Cowboys’ all-time leader in touchdown passes may want to hang things up as he has a third child due in August and not put more undue stress on his body in search of an elusive Super Bowl ring.