IRVING, Texas – It's been the biggest storyline of the offseason and according to multiple reports and sources, the end is seemingly near.
The Cowboys have made Tony Romo the highest-paid player in franchise history, giving him a six-year contract extension worth $108 million, including about $55 million guaranteed.
The contract pays Romo more than $17 million per season, putting him just outside the top five among highest-paid quarterbacks in the league. Recently, Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco received just $52 million in guaranteed cash.
"It just takes a little bit of time to figure out exactly what everyone's comfortable with," Romo said. "The Joneses were incredible in this whole process. It's just a great feeling to know you're going to finish out your career here, especially the way our team is. We're a team on the rise. I've been around teams from both sides, teams that were good and teams that were not so good. If we'd have stayed healthy last year, I think we were that team that was continuing to get better. But we're a team on the rise, and it's going to show here going forward."
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement that Romo will have a significant level of input and contribution to the planning and implementing of the offensive approach in the meeting room and on the field.
"This is a significant day in terms of securing stability for our team for the future," Jones said. "Tony is uniquely qualified to lead this team at the quarterback position for the next several years. He has an abundance of experience and familiarity with our offensive philosophy, our head coach and the personnel around him. He is moving into a period of time where he can maximize all of his natural skills while continuing to build upon the talents that he has developed since entering the NFL."
Despite not signing Romo earlier, the Cowboys have been able to get under the salary cap, shaving off more than $35 million in cap space to do things such as sign Anthony Spencer to a franchise tag, and sign a pair of veteran free agents this week.
Romo was scheduled to count 16.8 million on the salary cap and any deal worked out will lower his cap charge for 2013, freeing up some cash to potentially sign other free agents. So far, the Cowboys have re-signed L.P. Ladouceur and Ernie Sims, as well as veterans Will Allen and Justin Durant. But this type of room should allow the Cowboys to be players with most available free agents still on the market.
"I think part of getting the deal done was that we could sign some people," Romo said. "I don't think we were planning on being big spenders early on, but there's a lot of guys out there that we hopefully can add a few pieces that make us a better football team. I think with all the injuries and the people coming back there and then a couple additions and the draft and some of the other changes we're making over here, I think it's going to be a lot of good stuff. It's going to be a team that can win and a team that can win a lot early."
Romo had one year remaining on his contract that expires after the 2013 season, when he was expected to earn $11.5 million. He signed this contract back in 2007 but has re-negotiated and re-structured the deal twice to help the Cowboys with cap space over the years.
Last year, Romo threw a career-high 648 passes, but his quarterback rating of 90.5 was the lowest of his career.