We’ve long known that Tony Romo wouldn’t play in Dallas in 2017, and now we’ve learned that he won’t play anywhere else, either. Romo, who turns 37 later this month, and he’ll reportedly move straight into broadcasting.
And while there’s always the chance that he, this is no consolation for the two teams considered front-runners for Romo’s services as recently as early Tuesday morning.
For much of the offseason, the Texans and Broncos were thought to be the favorites to land Romo, who lost his job to Dak Prescott last season and short of alien abduction had no chance to regain it. But Houston pulled the plug on the Brock Osweiler experiment a year after signing him to a four-year, $72 million deal, and currently only have Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden under contract. Texans coach Bill O’Brien has said he’s encouraged by what he has seen from Savage but no one would mistake the former fourth-round pick with 92 career attempts with Romo, one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
The situation in Denver is slightly better: Trevor Siemian was serviceable a season ago and the Broncos traded back into the first round to take Paxton Lynch last year. Both players are short on experience but have the confidence of general manager John Elway. And while Elway was never going to overpay for Romo, he brought Peyton Manning to Denver five years ago, months after Tim Tebow led the Broncos to the playoffs, and promptly installed him atop the depth chart. In the four seasons that followed, Denver went 50-14, made two Super Bowl appearances and won a Lombardi Trophy.
For both teams the question becomes: Now what?
The Texans could ...
1) Roll with Savage, which O’Brien hinted earlier this offseason: “He’s got a live arm. He knows our system,” the coach said from the owners meetings. “It’ll be his fourth year in the league. He has some experience and he knows how we do things.” And during an appearance on NFL Network around that time, O’Brien reaffirmed that he believed in Savage.
“Absolutely. [Savage] came into some tough games, the Jacksonville game last year that we had to win. We were down in the game, he helped us come back,” O’Brien said. “He helped us beat Cincinnati on Christmas Eve, which was a big game that we had to win to clinch the South. We knew we had to win because of what happened earlier in the day in our division. And he helped us win that game. He got injured, and that’s been kind of one of the things that’s happened to him. He’s been injured over the last three years of his career. But if you look at the history of the league, there’s a number of guys who have played that were injured early in their career. Tom is a smart guy, he can throw the ball really well, he knows our system and he’s a guy that we’re real excited about working with.”
2) Draft a quarterback: This is exactly what we have the Texans doing. That said, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes won’t be ready to start in 2017, a fact O’Brien concedes about most rookie quarterbacks.
“I think that there’s no substitute for experience,” the coach said, via ESPN.com. “So, I think it’s hard to ask a guy to come in straight from college and Day 1 he’s a starter on your team. But I know that there are some really good quarterbacks in this draft that we’re looking at and we’ve met with a lot of them. We’re excited about continuing to get to know them. But, I just think for me as a general rule, that’s tough to start them as a Day 1 guy.”
Put another way: This means DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller could have to endure another season of uneven quarterback play. And that reality, along with the everyday pressures that coaches face to win now, could prompt the Texans to take a flier on two former franchise quarterbacks who are currently looking for work.
Which brings us to this from CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco:
Texans need to make a push for Cutler or Kaepernick. Now.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) April 4, 2017
And if push comes to shove, Prisco is taking Cutler.
Both Cutler and Kaepernick are kindred spirits in that they are athletic QBs with big arms who failed to live up to expectations. Could that change with new coaches and teammates? Maybe. But it’s more likely they would continue to struggle for the same reasons they’re currently free agents. Perhaps those warts would be minimized on a team with legit playmakers and an outstanding defense. But would that probability outweigh all the other stuff that would come with signing either player? That’s the question. That said ...
The Broncos could ...
1) Roll with Siemian or Lynch: Elway seems quite comfortable with that possibility.
“Like we’ve said, we really feel good about the two young ones that we have,” Elway said from the owners meeting last week, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “Trevor [Siemian] did a good job for us last year and Paxton [Lynch] was young. The plan is to stay the course there and see what’s available in the draft. So we’ll go from there. We like both. Paxton was a first-rounder last year for a reason. Then Trevor came in and played very well. It will be a great competition between them in the spring.”
2) Add another quarterback: This is the plan and first-year coach Vance Joseph said as much last week, though the details of their role still remain up in the air.
“As a third quarterback, it’s kind of what you want. It is your preference. Again, that is a work in progress. It could be a young veteran. Why not?” Joseph said. “I would not perceive it being an older veteran. If it’s going to be a veteran, it’s going to be a young veteran for us. I wouldn’t discount drafting a young quarterback in the draft next month. That’s possible.”
It’s hard to imagine the Broncos would use a first-round pick on a quarterback. Partly because none would be ready to play immediately, but also because three -- and possibly four -- could already be off the board by the time the 20th pick rolls around.
Even harder to imagine: The Broncos taking a chance with Cutler, who they originally drafted in 2006, or Kaepernick, who they had shown some interest in last offseason before Elway announced in April 20016 that those discussions were “.”
To recap: The Texans’ 2017 starting quarterback might not yet be on the roster while the Broncos appear happy to move forward with their two young passers. This assumes, of course, that.