There was a time when the Dallas Cowboys insisted Tony Romo was their starting quarterback, no matter what Dak Prescott did on the field. That changed when Prescott kept winning and kept playing sparkling football along the way. Now, the Cowboys are insisting that Dak's still their starter now and going forward, even after a couple rough games.

One thing is clear, though: Dak is the quarterback of the future, and that means Romo and the Cowboys may be heading for a separation sooner than anybody could have imagined before this season. According to a report from Pro Football Talk, Romo may actually request to be released this offseason rather than traded, so he can keep his options more wide open and so that the team acquiring him doesn't have to give up players and/or draft picks.

Being released rather than traded would certainly benefit Romo in that he'd have 31 potential employers to choose from (even if the actual list of teams pursuing him would almost definitely be smaller than that). If the Cowboys elected to make him a post-June 1 cut, it would even benefit them in that he'd only count against their books for $12.7 million, as opposed to $19.6 million if he's traded or released outright, and $24.7 million if he remains on the roster. (They'd be charged the remaining $6.9 million in 2018.)

But letting Romo go and getting nothing in return -- essentially, willfully giving up on one of the best quarterback situations in the league, just to save $5-12 million against the cap -- would not be the best way to make the Cowboys better, which should be the only goal the Cowboys organization has this offseason. Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Jason Garrett and the rest of the organization no doubt want to do right by Romo, who was plucked out of nowhere and became a high-level starter for a decade. And that's great, and admirable. He deserves it.

Doing right by him can take several forms, though, and they should be careful not to let making Romo happy a higher priority than building their Romo-less team, if they indeed decide to move on. The last time Romo was healthy for a full season, in 2014, he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He hasn't been healthy at all since then, but given the paucity of potentially high-level quarterback options on the market every offseason, it would not at all be a surprise if a fruitful trade market developed for his services. The Cowboys would be wise to get the best deal they can, if dealing him is what they think is best for the team.