Stephen Jones reiterates that Tony Romo is in Cowboys' long-term plans

The plan is to keep Romo in Dallas. (US Presswire)

It doesn't matter how many times the question comes up, or in what form, the answer remains the same: the Cowboys have every intention of keeping Tony Romo in Dallas. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said it again last month, and team vice president Stephen Jones reiterated those sentiments Tuesday.

"Tony is a key piece of what we're about going forward," Stephen Jones said via's Calvin Watkins. "We're certainly going to be looking at his situation [in] time. We've historically [extended contracts] with quarterbacks for the Dallas Cowboys ahead of time. We did it with Troy [Aikman] and we certainly want to look at that with Tony so we can all move forward in terms of how we want to play around our salary cap with our team. Tony is the key piece in terms of how your cap is represented."

Critics are quick to point out that Aikman won three Super Bowls while Romo hasn't won three playoff games in his nine-year NFL career. But we've written before that Romo isn't the reason the Cowboys haven't been to the postseason in three years.

In fact, according to Football Outsiders' metrics, Romo has been a top-10 quarterback in three of the last four seasons (and the one year he wasn't, 2010, Romo was sidelined for nearly two-thirds of the season with an injury). Of course, the ill-timed, game-changing turnovers make it easy for Romo's critics, even if he's what most coaches and front-office types consider a legit franchise quarterback.

However you choose to classify him, Romo is in the the final year of a contract that will pay him $11.5 million in 2013. His salary-cap figure is roughly $17 million and the team is currently some $20 million over the cap. The Cowboys, who have until March 12 to get under the expected $121-million cap, could reduce Romo's cap hit by extending his contract.

"I don't feel pressed," said Jones. "I don't think we've ever felt pressed with Tony. He's been a great partner. As I said, your quarterback, even when you have a good one and we're certainly lucky to have one of the best, is going to represent a good piece of your salary cap. How you manage that is important. He understands that and we do, too."

At the Senior Bowl in January, Jerry Jones acknowledged that Romo has detractors but posed a question to those same detractors.

"He gets criticized," Jones said at the time, "[but] I always say, 'Well, good. Now tell me who you want me to have there at quarterback. Go pick that guy for me next game.'"

And this is why Romo isn't going anywhere.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the Pick-6 Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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