PHOENIX -- Bill O’Brien would prefer not to talk about the elephant in the room. Specifically, the quarterback-playing elephant who still currently resides in Dallas but would eagerly swap that blue star he has always worn on the side of his helmet for the small white star that adorns the Houston Texans’ headgear.

Of course, O’Brien realized that the steady stream of reporters who eventually flowed over to his table at the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday morning were going to be more interested in asking about Tony Romo, still temporarily employed by the Dallas Cowboys, than they were going to be in any of the quarterbacks actually on O’Brien’s roster. That group is led by Tom Savage, he of two NFL starts. The media was also going to be much more interested in the complicated one-year saga with former starter Brock Osweiler -- who went from getting $37 million guaranteed to being such an unwanted albatross that the Texans essentially sold the remainder of his contract to the Browns, along with a second-round pick, to rid themselves of the mess. That move helped create enough cap room to procure a quarterback the Texans believe might play the position at a legitimate level -- like Romo.

Which explains why O’Brien’s mantra Tuesday was a derivation from Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s legendary “We’re on to Cincinnati.” O’Brien, something of a Belichick disciple from his time on his staff, was quick to spin out “we’re on to 2017,” lest anyone try to get him to delve into the ugly Osweiler affair. And as to any interest in Romo (trust me, it exists in the highest reaches of that organization), O’Brien is sufficiently versed in the league’s anti-tampering restrictions to point out that he’s not at liberty to comment on players under contract to other NFL teams.

Hence the following:

“Like I said 10 days ago, we’re on to 2017,” O’Brien said at the beginning of his hour-long session with the media at the Arizona Biltmore resort where the NFL’s annual spring meeting was taking place. “I’m looking forward to 2017. We wish Brock Osweiler all the best … We wish [all the departed players] the best. But every year is different, and this will be a different team.”

Bill O’Brien knows there’s only one guy who can fix his QB problem in Houston.  USATSI

No argument there. It certainly will be after the $72 million marriage with Osweiler that turned out to be a mere seasonal fling, and given the fact that a team with legit Super Bowl aspirations is once again without anyone who could be considered a bona fide starting QB. The most important position in all of team sports -- and the very position that O’Brien made his calling card on the way to the pinnacle of his profession -- remains a quandary in Houston, and the fascination with Romo won’t be dissipating anytime soon.

It makes all the sense in the world. It makes too much sense not to happen, frankly. There are no better-placed suitors (frankly, it might be Houston or bust for Romo at this point as the Broncos’ interest seems middling at best). The need in Houston is present and acute. And did I mention that Romo would absolutely love to play there and they’ve been a coveted destination for him throughout this unduly long process all along?

I would have shipped a third-round pick or whatever to Jerry Jones the moment the Osweiler transaction was finalized and gone ahead and landed the leader of my football team. I’m trying to win right now and while Romo is older and has injury woes, he’s a massive step up from anything the Texans have had -- ever -- and his last full season was MVP-worthy. The Texans proved in 2016 that they can win the lowly AFC South without a quarterback. Imagine what they might accomplish with one?

But for now we’re still engaged in a Texas-sized game of chicken between two of the richest men in that state over a quarterback who one once thought of as a son and who another needs more than he is willing to let on. It’s ridiculous that Jones has let this drag on as long as it has, and while I applaud his desire to get something of value for a player of Romo’s caliber, and I would do the same thing, soon enough his bluff will be called. Everyone knows he’s not carrying Romo as a backup with a $24 million cap hit, and he said as much to his star veteran before free agency began in early March.

Without a trade, Romo will be released. It’s just a matter of when Jones opts to do it. Texans owner Bob McNair knows as much, which explains in part why we reached this stage. And with these league meetings concluding and teams about to enter their offseason programs, Jones is only going to hold on for so much longer. Personally, again, I would have given Jones a draft pick weeks ago -- some are suggesting he wants too much for Romo -- and have Romo already deep in my playbook, but that’s just me, I guess.

O’Brien, who was mostly a passenger in the pursuit of Osweiler a year ago as ownership and management led that charge, has had decidedly little to say publicly on the matter. And justifiably so. But internally there is no doubt he wants a proven veteran like Romo to try to take this team from AFC South champion to an actual title contender, and the timing of all of this could not be better. It’s only so often a Romo or Peyton Manning is on the street waiting for their next contract.

“I’m not involved in any trade talks,” O’Brien said. “I’m a coach. I didn’t have any trade discussions with anyone … I’m not going to get into any specifics.”

Later another Romo question came forth: “I have had no contact with the Cowboys,” O’Brien said. “I’m a coach. Tony Romo is under contract … We’re excited about the guys we have coming back.”

Of course, this is all O’Brien could really say. And, yes, he has been enthusiastic about Savage in the past and he did make the switch to him late last season. But after all of his quick hooks in games and in seasons and after churning through a procession of journeymen and never-weres at this position in his three years at the helm -- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer, Osweiler, Savage  -- Romo offers a potential massive upgrade.

“We know we have to improve on offense,” as the coach himself put it.

Given how long the Texans have waited to offer up what Jones would want, I don’t anticipate that changing now. Each day closer to the draft and OTAs makes it all the more likely Romo is simply released. And Jones is doing a disservice to one of his all-time favorite players by continuing to drag this on. Romo lost his job only because he got hurt and Dak Prescott excelled, but he merits an opportunity to play elsewhere and Houston wouldn’t pose any opposition to the Cowboys’ chances until or unless the two franchises met in a Super Bowl.

Also, as a PSA: Don’t get caught up in any of the faux drama being floated about Romo vs. Prescott or any such nonsense. It’s a business, and Romo knows as much, and this is an ownership decision. He has many, many friends for life in that Cowboys locker room and frankly he has been vacationing and out of town with his family for much of the month. If that makes him “distant” or whatever, so be it, I suppose. But this is out of Romo’s hands too, and, yes, broadcasting is certainly in his future at some point, but I would put it at least at 70/30 he plays football this season and the Texans really are a perfect fit.

It’s time for Jones to man up and do the right thing. Make one last pitch at getting a mid-round pick or something from Houston at these meetings while everyone is gathered in one geographic location, and then move on. As much as he wore a poker face Tuesday morning, that proposition would make O’Brien jump for joy and it would be a much-needed boost of energy and spirit to that locker room after the Osweiler debacle.  

Go ahead and land Romo, and when O’Brien says things like, “we feel good about our team as it sits now,” people will actually believe him. Because as it sits right now, Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden are the only quarterbacks under contract in Houston, and I don’t see any Lombardi Trophies in the immediate future.