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Cowboys "Comfortable" Operating On A Five-Year Timeframe For Tony Romo

INDIANAPOLIS -- For whatever injury risk it might entail, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he's willing to operate under the assumption that Tony Romo will be his quarterback for the next five years.

"I feel very comfortable, to the main part of your question, with a five-year timeframe. I feel very comfortable with that," Jones said on Saturday morning. "When I say comfortable: I'm ready to make decisions based on him being our quarterback that far into the future."

The question he was referring to was actually about drafting a potential replacement, but it carries much larger repercussions than that. Romo has had back surgeries in each of the past two years, and it can't be forgotten that he broke his back in Week 8 of the 2014 season.

For a quarterback who turns 35 this April, that's a lot of variables to keep in mind. Aside from his health, Romo also carries the Cowboys' most expensive contract, which is slated to pay him $17 million in salary and count $27.7 million toward the salary cap in 2015.

Jones acknowledged the risk involved in the situation, particularly with regard to injury. But coming off the best season of Romo's career, it's a risk he said he's willing to make.  

"I'm not going to look into the crystal ball with you and tell you he's not going to have down days over the next five years – I can't do that," he said. "But I can tell you I'm comfortable, and I'm going to make decisions based on him being here."

Given that kind of confidence, it raises an interesting question for Jones to raise about the immediate future: is it worth it to restructure Romo's contract? The Cowboys could potentially free up a large chunk of salary cap space by converting his salary to a signing bonus, thereby giving them space to sign free agents this spring.

Were they to do that, though, they'd be pushing Romo's gaudy salary cap hit even further into the future – which becomes tricky if he can't stay healthy in coming seasons.

"We haven't ruled it out," Jones said about the possibility of restructuring. "When we did his contract, we thought at some point and time that we would be going to it. But the bottom line is recognizing that nobody knows what's out there in the future, in those circumstances."

Given the issues facing the Cowboys this offseason, though, it has to be considered tempting to free up some cap space. The team could use the extra money to secure important free agents like DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Rolando McClain and Doug Free – among others.

Jones said he'd like to see exactly what's in front of him before making that gamble.

"It's hard to be hypothetical when you say would you extend his contract. You got to see what it is that's making you do it," he said.

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