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- Jeff LegwoldESPN Senior Writer Close
- Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
- Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
- Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Board
of Selectors since 1999
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A week at the league's scouting combine in Indianapolis yielded plenty of opinions about the draft.
But beneath all the talk about the pros-to-be was a swirl of thoughts, opinions and predictions about what will happen with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Injury history and all, Romo is the most proven quarterback who might be available in an offseason when free agency is thin and the draft is loaded with question marks at the position.
The Denver Broncos were among teams mentioned when Romo's name came up in Indy. Told at the combine the "prevailing wisdom" is the Broncos would be in the market for a veteran quarterback, the team's chief football decision-maker, John Elway, fired back: "Whose prevailing wisdom is that?"
Told it was that of other league evaluators, Elway said, "Then I guess I should.
"I'll say this: We're going to look at all the options once they become available. We're going to look at all the options, and if it's best for the Denver Broncos, if it's best for this team, because it's not only about winning next year, but it's also what it does for the future … we'll kick the tires on everything and do our homework on everything and then make the best decision on what we think is right for the Broncos."
Romo, who will turn 37 next month, is still under contract with the Cowboys, so teams can't talk on the record about his future. If Romo becomes available, there will be reasons to sign him:
The information available says he's in fabulous shape after working out this past season, having played just seven plays — all in the Cowboys' regular-season finale — and is motivated for the proverbial last rodeo with a playoff contender.
Paxton Lynch might not be ready and has shown he's going to need time navigating his second NFL playbook in two seasons. And Trevor Siemian is coming off left (nonthrowing) shoulder surgery. During the combine, Elway said, "I'm not worried about Trevor." But having one quarterback coming off surgery and another who might not be ready could push the team into a move.
It worked with Peyton Manning. Manning was released by the Colts with significant health questions and wasn't close to ready to play when the Broncos signed him in 2012, and that turned into four division titles; a record-setting performance in 2013, when Denver scored 606 points; two Super Bowl trips and one Super Bowl win.
And reasons not to:
Romo can't make his back and collarbone issues go away, no matter how much cardio he does. Polled informally throughout the combine, talent evaluators have significant concerns about Romo making it through a season as a starter. They wonder if he could take more than a handful of hits without facing another lost season.
You're not getting the Romo of 2014. The Broncos have said they like their situation at quarterback with Lynch, 23, and Siemian, 25. The team was two dropped passes from a playoff berth last season, and Siemian has the trust of his teammates. More than one has said privately they believe the Broncos can win with Siemian if they get better on the offensive line. And because Lynch is a draft pick, a first-rounder who Elway traded up to select, there is some feeling Siemian would be the odd quarterback out for a short-term solution such as Romo. That's a big price tag for what most in the league believe is a one-year move.
It worked with Manning and that's all a franchise can expect. The Broncos' long-term outlook takes a significant hit if they become the sign-a-veteran-quarterback team every year. They'll likely have to jettison a young quarterback and then play their prized prospect before he's ready if Romo got hurt. And Romo has played in parts of just five games in the past two seasons.
The bottom line is the Cowboys don't have to decide quickly if they don't want to. Elway also did offer this at the combine: "We're looking for a guy you can hang your hat on for a long, long time."
If Romo hits the market, everyone will see if Elway is "looking" for that long-term solution now or plans to do it later.