To say that there has been significant attention on the future of Tony Romo would be an understatement. Several prolific writers and fans have identified teams that might be interested in trading for Romo. The Houston Texans are often mentioned as a team that is ready to compete for a Super Bowl if they only had a good quarterback. However, as several have noted, there is a big impediment for a trade with Houston – the Texans owe Brock Osweiler $16 million in guaranteed salary for next season, and he has a cap number of $19 million.
If Houston acquires Romo (and doesn’t redo his contract) and keeps Osweiler, they would have $33 million of their salary cap allocated to two quarterbacks. If they release Osweiler, the $16 million guaranteed money plus $9 million of signing bonus money would accelerate to the salary cap, although some could eventually be pushed to 2018 if he was designated as a June 1 release. So acquiring Romo would result in an unpalatable salary cap charge for the quarterback position in Houston regardless of what is done with Osweiler, right?
Not so fast…there is an alternative for the Texans. Houston could swing a deal with the Cowboys AND another team to alleviate those cap issues. Several teams have a plethora of cap space available, often due to carrying over unused cap space from previous seasons. The 2017 salary cap figures below are from OvertheCap.com.
|Team||Team Salary Cap||Team Salary Cap Space|
A trade could benefit Dallas, Houston, and another team. Let’s use Cleveland for this example.
Dallas trades Romo to Houston.
Houston gives up its 3rd and 4th round draft picks in the 2017 draft plus a conditional pick in the 2018 draft. Let’s say a 5th round pick in 2018 that could become a higher pick based on Romo’s playing time and Houston’s success during the 2017 regular season and/or playoffs. For example, the 2018 pick becomes a 1st round pick if Romo starts for Houston in the Super Bowl and Houston wins the Super Bowl, a 2nd if Romo plays in 75% of Houston’s offensive plays and Houston wins 10 or more games or a 3rd round pick if Romo plays in 60% of Houston’s offensive plays and Houston wins 7 or more games. That is a lot to give up for Romo, but here is where Cleveland comes in.
Cleveland agrees to accept Osweiler and his horrific contract in exchange for Houston’s 2017 3rd round draft pick.
To summarize for each team:
Dallas – Romo for Houston’s 4th round pick in 2017 plus a conditional pick in 2018 that could be a 1st (unlikely), a 2nd (fairly likely), a 3rd (fairly likely), or a 5th (if either Houston is unsuccessful or Romo is injured).
Cleveland – Accepts a $16 million salary cap hit in exchange for Osweiler and Houston’s 3rd round pick. Considering Cleveland’s cap space, a 3rd round pick is a nice return to help with their rebuilding. Osweiler would likely backup Cody Kessler, or he could be released in the event that Cleveland drafts another quarterback that it prefers over Osweiler. If kept, Cleveland could redo his contract to remove the years after 2017 in order to obtain a compensatory draft pick if he signs elsewhere in 2018. The collective bargaining agreement contains a minimum amount of cash spending per team (see excerpt in italics below), so Cleveland will have to spend money on players in some way or another.
Houston – Dumps the huge problem of holding on to Osweiler and his salary liability and gains a potential top ten quarterback for 3rd and 4th round picks in the 2017 draft and a conditional pick in the 2018 draft. If the team or Romo are not successful in 2017, the 2018 pick would only be a 3rd or 5th round pick. Houston would still incur a $9 million cap hit in 2017 due to the acceleration of Osweiler’s signing bonus money that was deferred for cap purposes.
To analyze the value given up for Romo, Houston would likely jump at the chance to give up a 3rd round pick to unload Osweiler’s contract and move on from the embarrassing mistake that was made in signing him. Don’t underestimate the distraction that Houston would have if Osweiler is retained with the press continuing to rehash the terrible decision made by the General Manager and/or coach for another season. That would leave the compensation for Romo as a 4th round pick in 2017 and a conditional pick in 2018.
Dallas fans may say that is too little, but Romo can nix any trade with the threat of retirement and Dallas likely isn’t willing to keep him for $14 million next season, so their options are somewhat limited. What other teams are in a position to win but need an upgrade at quarterback? Denver and Buffalo are the only other teams that come to mind. Sources indicate that Romo had his eyes on Denver, but sources have also said that Denver is not interested in Romo.
Section 9. Minimum Team Cash Spending:
(a) For each of the following four-League Year periods, 2013–2016 and 2017–2020, there shall be a guaranteed Minimum Team Cash Spending of 89% of the Salary Caps for such periods (e.g., if the Salary Caps for the 2013–16 and 2017–2020 are $100, 120, 130, and 150 million, respectively, each Club shall have a Minimum Team Cash Spending for that period of $445 million (89% of $500 million))
(b) Any shortfall in the Minimum Team Cash Spending at the end of a League Year in which it is applicable (i.e., the 2016 and 2020 League Years) shall be paid, on or before the next September 15, by the Team having such shortfall, directly to the players who were on such a Team’s roster at any time during the applicable seasons, pursuant to the reasonable allocation instructions of the NFLPA.
What do you say Cowboys Nation? Would you make this trade?