Barring a last-second trade market emerging, the Cowboys are moving on from the Tony Romo era when free agency kicks off according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. 

Romo will be released on Thursday at the beginning of free agency and when that happens, multiple teams will begin chasing the quarterback. The primary suitors are the teams you’ve been hearing about for a while: the Broncos and the Texans.

Ahead of free agency (and even the legal tampering period) rumors were abounding that the Broncos and Texans were “ready to pursue” Romo.

The Chiefs have been more or less removed from contention for Romo, with GM John Dorsey telling that it’s “case closed” for Kansas City in terms of their quarterback next year. Alex Smith is the guy.

A darkhorse candidate (the Jaguars perhaps?) could emerge, but it’s clear Romo wants to go to a contender. And it’s also clear that Jerry Jones wants to keep him out of the NFC and certainly the NFC East

But largely for Romo to work, the team he’s heading to needs to be a contender and needs to be someone in the AFC.

Romo will leave the Cowboys much to the chagrin of owner Jerry Jones, who has long considered the quarterback one of his favorite players. Romo is the Cowboys all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, but there’s no doubt that the end to his run in Dallas comes in bittersweet fashion, as he was unable to take Dallas to the promised land and had to watch Dak Prescott emerge as the franchise’s future in his final season playing for America’s Team. 

Next year offers a remarkable opportunity for Romo, though, as he showed in limited action against the Eagles late in the year he can still sling the ball around. Now it’s about how teams can lock him down to take their team to the next level.

The Broncos already have Paxton Lynch on the roster, but John Elway hasn’t been afraid to pursue veteran options that give his team an extra gear. For the Texans, there’s an in-state appeal to Romo and the “safety net” of Brock Osweiler should things go awry.