FRISCO, Texas -- On Saturday, when the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s were celebrated for their three Super Bowl wins, owner and general manager Jerry Jones was asked a question about the Cowboys of today and Tony Romo.
Jones said no decision has been made on what will happen to Romo, the franchise’s leader in touchdown passes and yards, and they have not had any recent discussions about a trade or release in the near future.
With that as a backdrop comes the tweet of ESPN’s Ed Werder regarding the mutual interest between the Cowboys and veteran Josh McCown.
There's mutual interest between #Cowboys and backup QB Josh McCown. But Tony Romo decision must come first. Could be factor in TR timing
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) February 27, 2017
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he was mentioned as one of the possibilities for the Cowboys when Kellen Moore broke his ankle in the first week of training camp leaving Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers as Romo's top backups at the time.
Cleveland's asking price, believed to be a second-round pick, proved to be too high for the Cowboys. They talked about adding Nick Foles as well, but Prescott's quick development in camp led the Cowboys to sign Mark Sanchez as the backup the first week of the season after Romo suffered a compression fracture in his back.
McCown turns 38 in July but has become one of the more sought-after backups in recent years. The Browns were his third team in three years in 2015 after spending one season with Tampa Bay (2014) after a three-year run with Chicago from 2011-13 that included a four-touchdown pass game against the Cowboys in his final season.
McCown has won only two of his past 20 starts for the Browns and Buccaneers, but he would be in a much better situation as a backup with the Cowboys, considering the offensive talent. He has served as a mentor to younger quarterbacks in his career and has earned respect throughout the league. He has 79 touchdown passes and 69 interceptions for his career.
Perhaps discussions of a potential Romo trade or release will heat up this week when teams and agents convene at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. If the Cowboys trade or outright release Romo, they would free up $5.1 million in salary-cap space, but he would still count $19.6 million against the cap. If they designate him a post-June 1 release, then they would save $14 million in room and he would count $10.7 million against the cap in 2017 and $8.9 million in 2018. The downside is they would have to carry his $24.7 million cap figure through June 1, by which time the most attractive free agents would be gone.
If McCown is the Cowboys’ top target to be Prescott’s backup, it would fall in line with what the Cowboys did early in Romo’s tenure as their starter.
In 2007, his first full season as the starter, the Cowboys signed Brad Johnson, who was 39 at the time, but had plenty of starting experience and won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay. In 2010, the Cowboys traded for Jon Kitna, who was 38 at the time, but had plenty of starting experience.
Sanchez and Moore are also set to be free agents, and one or both could return depending on how the Cowboys want to staff their position behind Prescott.