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9:49 AM ET

  • Todd ArcherESPN Staff Writer Close
    • Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003
    • Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins
    • Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children

FRISCO, Texas — Monday is the fifth day of the Tony Romo watch.

What should be expected? Not much.

When the league year opened last Thursday, the expectation was Romo’s time with the Dallas Cowboys would come to an end, and then there was the report by ESPN Insider Chris Mortensen that the Cowboys expected to trade Romo to either the Denver Broncos or Houston Texans.

That hasn’t happened.

Reports from those covering both teams say there is interest in Romo, but not in a trade, only as a free agent.

“Line 1 with every decision we make is what’s in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys,” coach Jason Garrett said during the scouting combine two weeks ago. “So that has to be our guidepost in handling any situation with players, with coaches, in anything we do. Having said that, obviously we want to work through this situation the right way in regards to Tony, but we like to do that with any player we have.”

If the Cowboys truly go by what’s in the best interest of the team, then keeping Romo would be their best decision. Jerry Jones is on record saying they can keep Romo and his $24.7 million salary-cap figure. Jones boasted having the best quarterback situation in the NFL with Dak Prescott as the starter and Romo as the backup.

As much as it is tenable, it is not practical. And there wouldn’t be a quarterback competition. That wouldn’t be fair to Romo or Prescott. That chemistry that was so lauded last season would be severely and unnecessarily tested.

Also, Jones brought up his do-right rule at the combine. Jones said he and Romo have an unwritten agreement that the team would do right by Romo and presumably make a quick decision on his status and Romo would do right by the team and presumably not sign with the Washington Redskins if the NFC East rival had a quarterback opening.

There can be no formal do-right agreement, of course, but a wink-wink, nod-nod is OK.

“He’s got a high tolerance for ambiguity,” Jones said of Romo at the combine. “I’ve got a high tolerance for ambiguity.”

The end game for Romo is clear. He would like to know where he will play in 2017, if he chooses to play. Retirement has always been one of the options. Romo turns 37 next month. Injuries have allowed him to play in parts of just five games the last two seasons. He doesn’t need to play. It comes down to wanting to play.

On Friday came Adam Schefter’s report that Fox would like Romo to slide into the vacancy created by John Lynch’s departure to be the San Francisco 49ers' general manager. Other networks have interest in Romo as well.

Having the choice to pick where to play — if he wants to play — is in Romo's hands if he is cut. He has veto power should the Cowboys decide to trade him. He can simply say, “No.” If he is released, he can take his time and interview the teams interested in him and see if there is a good fit with the coaches and personnel.

The end game for the Cowboys is not as clear. They know they can’t bring Romo back. They know they need to make a clean break from the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. But they don’t have to make a move right now. They don’t need the $5.1 million in cap space created by a trade or outright release because they will not make big free-agent splashes.

But what is in their best interests to wait? Right now it seems to be the desperation of another team hoping to make a deal for Romo.

So we wait. And wait some more.

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