IRVING, Texas – It was an idea that was tossed around throughout the offseason, and Tony Romo agreed – he would have been willing to take a pay cut to keep DeMarco Murray in Dallas.
Romo spoke at length to "The Ben & Skin Show" of 105.3 The Fan as part of an offseason interview on Tuesday afternoon. The conversation touched on a variety of topics, including a mention of Murray, who left the Cowboys three weeks ago for a five-year, $42 million contract in Philadelphia.
That wasn't before the duo talked about ways they could make finances work, however.
"DeMarco ended up asking me, he was like 'Why don't you take a pay cut,'" Romo said. "I was like 'I will! I would take a pay cut to go do this.'"
Romo is far and away the Cowboys' most expensive player, with an average salary of $18 million and a 2015 salary cap hit of $27 million – nearly 20 percent of the team's salary cap for the year. The veteran quarterback,
who will turn 35 next month, said he and Murray joked about the topic during the lead up to free agency.
"I was like 'They're going to restructure,' and that's the same thing in some ways – for salary cap purposes. He was like 'Ok, now we're back to being friends again,'" Romo said. "I was like 'You're really Dworried about me? I would take $5 million less if it meant getting you back,' and he knew that. It was just funny how he was worried about that part of it for like a week, and I'm like 'That's not the reason. Obviously, I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.'"
If he didn't take an outright pay cut, the restructure Romo was referring to could have freed up some salary cap space for the Cowboys to re-sign Murray. By restructuring the contract, Dallas could have converted most of Romo's 2015 salary into a signing bonus, effectively reducing his cap hit to just $1 million and pushing the largest cost into the future.
It's a tactic the club could technically still use, though it can obviously no longer help them in the bid to keep their former All-Pro running back. Romo said the decision to part ways was just an example of league economics.
"I wanted DeMarco back, obviously. But at the same time, the team allocates money to positions and things of that nature," he said. "I think they wanted him back, and obviously a team came in and gave him a great deal. And he deserves to make that decision, too. Obviously I'm saddened by the fact that he's not a Dallas Cowboy, but that's just part of playing the game in the NFL."
Given his veteran status and influence in the organization, the topic of conversation prompted an interesting question. As the franchise quarterback, did Romo feel comfortable using his influence in personnel decisions? His answer echoed the mantra of his coach, Jason Garrett.
"I think I learned a while ago, you do your job. That helps everybody if you do that to the best of your abilities," he said. "I think if you're really good at something you can help in that environment, but I knew a long time ago I'm not very good with the salary cap, I'm not very good with player personnel decisions."