Cowboys announce release of Tony Romo, who joins CBS Sports for 2017 season

One of the biggest offseason questions has finally been answered: After 14 seasons in Dallas, and with speculation looming that quarterback Tony Romo would be traded or released to continue his NFL career, the quarterback will instead join CBS Sports as its lead NFL game analyst beginning with the 2017-2018 NFL season, the network announced Tuesday.

The Cowboys also announced that Romo had officially been released.

“We wish Tony and his family nothing but the best,” said Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, via the team’s official website. “As an organization, we did what he asked us to do in terms of his release, and we wanted to do what was ultimately in his best interest and in the best interest of his family.”

As recently as nine months ago, the expectation was that a healthy Romo would be the beneficiary of the league’s best offensive line and some of its best skill-position players in Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and rookie Ezekiel Elliott. A preseason back injury changed all that -- and the trajectory of Romo’s NFL career. He spent the season watching Dak Prescott go from fourth-round afterthought to the face of the franchise, leading Dallas to 13 wins, the NFC East title and the playoffs.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported early Tuesday morning that Romo’s decision to retire was based in part in valuing health and family just a few weeks before his 37th birthday. He took several weeks to reach this conclusion, and Romo has already informed Jones, who said from the owners meetings last week that the deadline for trading Romo was training camp. That point is now moot.

In the weeks and months since the Romo Hype Train began gaining steam, the thinking was that the four-time Pro Bowl selection would follow the path blazed by Peyton Manning five years ago, when he was released by the Colts, signed with the Broncos  and eventually led that team to a Lombardi Trophy. With Manning retired and youth and inexperience at the position, the Broncos were thought to be in the running for Romo, as were the Texans, a team that could only endure one year of the Brock Osweiler Experiment before shipping him and a second-round pick to the Browns.

But the start of free agency came and went, and Romo remained on the Cowboys with no sign of progress in sight. He reportedly took Jones’ perceived foot-dragging personally, though Jones denies this. Either way, it’s Jones’ words from early March, when he was discussing that he and Romo had an understanding that the quarterback would not sign with the rival Redskins, that have proved most prophetic, even if accidentally so.

“What I’m really saying is that I do not know how, what we will end up with -- whether it will be a trade, whether it will be a release, whether it will be neither,” Jones said at the time. “I do not know at this time. All scenarios have been well-considered and thought out. Now we’ve just got to see where the reality is.”

For Dallas, that reality lies with Prescott. For Romo, it’s with his family.

And while Romo is gone, Jones -- one of Romo’s biggest supporters -- won’t soon forget what he did for the organization.

“I feel so fortunate to be where we are as a team and have the team and have Dak,” Jones said last month. “I feel very fortunate. But a lot of what this team is about, I thought that on a personal basis Tony would have been the benefactor. When I look at our relationship, for all the right reasons it was to win and win big, win a Super Bowl. We might not have the decisions we made in the offensive line had we not been so focused in on protecting Tony, and then having the running game.”

Of course, never say never. Even though he won’t be on an NFL roster, Romo will remain one of the league’s best players. Which, technically, means that he’s just a phone call away...

In his new job, Romo will join Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson on the lead announce team for the network’s coverage of “The NFL on CBS.”

“When you think about the NFL, two of the most iconic brands are the Dallas Cowboys and CBS Sports,”  Romo said, via a statement released by CBS. “Going from one legendary team to another as I begin the next phase of my career is a dream come true. I have always known that once my playing career was over I wanted to become a broadcaster. I am ecstatic for the opportunity to work with Jim as I learn the craft and convey to fans my passion for this great game.”

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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