Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is leaving football a
nd going into broadcasting, even with Dallas planning to release him Tuesday, league sources tell ESPN.
Romo has received interest from CBS, Fox and NBC, and can choose to be a color commentator where he wants. That move could come as early as Tuesday, sources said.
But the decision to leave football already has been made. His run as the Cowboys' quarterback -- and an NFL player -- officially ends Tuesday.
Dallas is expected to designate Romo as a post-June 1 release, softening the blow against the Cowboys' cap this season. Instead of counting $24.7 million in 2017, Romo would count $10.7 million this year and $8.9 million in 2018. The Cowboys would gain $14 million in cap space, but it would not become available until June 2. But after Tuesday, Romo will no longer be with the Cowboys.
Romo's decision came down to his health, sources close to the situation told ESPN. Romo, who turns 37 on April 21, believes his family and his health are paramount at this time in his life. He was limited to playing in just parts of five games over the past two seasons because of collarbone and back injuries, and he suffered a compression fracture in his back last August that led to him ultimately giving way to Dak Prescott.
Tony Romo gave all he could give to the Cowboys
Tony Romo never got a Super Bowl ring, but he played through countless injuries trying to lead the Cowboys to glory.
He now will get to spend more time with his family while still retaining a strong connection to the game he loves. Romo spent the past several weeks working through the decision, sources told ESPN.
Romo already has informed Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of his decision to step away from the game for now, sources said. The networks courting him also are aware.
One NFL executive, however, told ESPN via text message that "Romo is now every team's emergency backup QB in case your starter gets hurt" and that those teams would have to "pay him to come out of 'retirement.'"
Stepping away from the game also will impact NFL teams, as the market for Romo was expected to be robust. But with his transition to TV, Romo no longer will be a consideration for the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos -- not unless he were to unexpectedly write another chapter in his NFL journey and return from the broadcast booth to the playing field.
The Texans had been considered the leading contender for the services of the Cowboys' all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. But without Romo, Tom Savage now is expected to be Houston's starting quarterback with former Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden serving as his backup.
In Denver, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will compete for the Broncos' starting quarterback job.
Romo's transition to TV will finish off one of the great undrafted free agent stories in NFL history.
In 2003, Romo bypassed a larger signing bonus from the Broncos to join the Cowboys out of Eastern Illinois. He did not throw a pass in a regular-season game during his first three seasons, but Bill Parcells turned to him in the sixth game of the 2006 season at halftime against the New York Giants.
Romo then sparked the Cowboys to a playoff berth and held the Cowboys' starting job through last August.
In his first full season as the starter in 2007, Romo threw for a then-franchise record 4,211 yards -- a mark he would surpass twice more in his career -- and a franchise record 36 touchdown passes. The Cowboys finished with the best record in the NFC (13-3) but lost in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Romo has a career record of 78-49, but never was able to get the Cowboys past the divisional round in four playoff appearances. His 34,183 passing yards and 248 touchdown passes are the most in team history.
Riding Off Into The Sunset
Tony Romo has the ninth-most passing touchdowns (248) among quarterbacks to have played their entire career with one team:
Quarterback Team TDs
Tom Brady Patriots 456
Dan Marino Dolphins 420
Eli Manning Giants 320
Philip Rivers Chargers 314
Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 301
John Elway Broncos 300
Aaron Rodgers Packers 297
Dan Fouts Chargers 254
Tony Romo Cowboys 248
Romo also holds team records for most 300-yard passing games (46), multiple touchdown pass games (79) and consecutive games with a touchdown pass (38). In 2012, he threw for a club-record 4,903 yards and on Oct. 6, 2013, against the Broncos, he threw for a franchise record 506 yards. He owns the NFL record with a touchdown pass in 41 straight road games.
In 2013, back injuries started to slow Romo down. He had two back surgeries, including a discectomy before the season finale. He suffered two transverse process fractures in 2014 but missed just one game in leading the Cowboys to a 12-4 record and NFC East title. In 2015, he suffered a broken left collarbone against the Philadelphia Eagles and missed seven games. He broke the collarbone again in his second game back and missed the final five games as the Cowboys went 1-11 without him.
A Star Among Cowboys' Stars
Quarterback Tony Romo leaves the Cowboys as the team's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown passes:
Passing yds. 34,183 1st
Passing TDs 248 1st
QB wins 78 3rd
After undergoing collarbone surgery last spring, Romo said his back felt as strong as it had in years. However, on the third play from scrimmage in a preseason game against Seattle, he was awkwardly driven to the turf by Cliff Avril and suffered the compression fracture in his back.
Romo's absence allowed Prescott, the Cowboys' second fourth-round pick last year, to ascend to the starting job. After losing the season opener, the Cowboys won a franchise-record 11 straight games. Prescott finished his rookie season with 23 touchdown passes and just four interceptions and was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Disappointed he would not have the chance to win the job back, Romo diffused any controversy with a heartfelt statement backing Prescott upon his return. He served as the backup for the first time since 2006 and saw action in just one game, throwing a touchdown pass on his lone drive in the 2016 finale against the Eagles.