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2014 NFL Draft

Whether Cowboys Draft Johnny Manziel or Not, It’s Another Stigma For Tony Romo

Just one year after signing Tony Romo through 2019, rumors are swirling that the Dallas Cowboys are interested in drafting Johnny Manziel.

Tony Romo
Tony Romo

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, when the Dallas Cowboys were rumored to have interest in former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, I thought nothing more of it than another rumor that began from someone trying to put Tony Romo on an even hotter cushion.

This morning, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King addressed it, suggesting the Cowboys’ interest is real.

I absolutely buy Dallas’ interest in Manziel. One: He is Jerry Jones’s kind of guy, and I believe Jones all along has had half an eye on Manziel, particularly if he could get him at a bargain position—say, the middle of the second round. I don’t believe Manziel will make it out of the first round, of course, but Jones could be sorely tempted at No. 16 overall if Manziel were there. Two: Tony Romo turned 34 last Monday, and his back is balky and twice surgically repaired, and Troy Aikman has been sounding the clarion call about the dangers of fooling with a bad back.

Similarly, ESPN Cleveland reported the Cowboys “will figure out a way” to get Manziel.

“I’ve heard this rumor for a month — the Cowboys will figure out a way to get Manziel,” CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz told ESPN Cleveland. Wherever Manziel goes, there is going to be more clamoring about Johnny Manziel than there would be about Blake Bortles going No. 1 or (Jadeveon) Clowney going No. 1, or anyone else. This is a guy that there’s just a tremendous interest in everything he does.”

So what are we to make of this potential love connection between Jones and Manziel, and where does that leave Romo?

Let’s talk about what matters most: Romo is under contract through the 2019 season, and Jones didn’t lock him up for a near-$120 million deal last spring to draft his successor a year later. That’s the truth. And while Aikman may be concerned about Romo’s back injury, Romo isn’t. That’s why he is preparing to participate in OTAs.

The biggest issue isn’t whether Romo is 100-percent healthy this spring; it’s that there continues to be speculation that he’s not “the guy” in Big D.

I’m not the biggest fan of Romo. I think he’s an above-average NFL quarterback who has a knack for the spectacular at times and a hard time living up to lofty expectations just as much. But between an owner who is also a general manager who also has a problem keeping his mouth shut, Romo is constantly facing an uphill battle.

I believe that Jones spends more time stirring the pot than he does actual general manager work. The Cowboys were an 8-8 club last season, two wins shy of the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles. But unlike the Eagles and the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins who all spent their offseasons getting better to be more competitive, we’re talking about the No. 2 team in the division drafting one of the most controversial figures in the NFL Draft and a potential quarterback conundrum.

Romo will be 34 years old when Week 1 rolls around. Well, Tom Brady will be 37. There’s a lot of discussion about the New England Patriots drafting a quarterback next month, but does anybody expect that rookie to replace Brady under center? No, of course not. Obviously Brady is entrenched as the Pats’ starting quarterback and has an impeccable resume to support him, but the notion of drafting a quarterback behind him doesn’t send whirlwinds throughout the league.

It’s only the media circus that is the Dallas Cowboys where this kind of insanity is considered the norm. Seriously, what does it say about the team if they spent the 16th overall pick on a quarterback a year removed from extending Romo’s deal? What does it say about the team if it’s “trying to figure out a way” to get this top quarterback prospect?

Manziel has not played a down of NFL football, and while he was an exceptional college player, there’s no evidence he’s going to transform the Cowboys from an 8-8 team to a Super Bowl contender. Wouldn’t it have made for sense to give Romo another wide receiver, more offensive weapons, or a maybe add some pieces on the worst-ranked defense in the league from a year ago?

This is a joke. Romo may not have won much for the Cowboys but even he deserves better treatment than this. Without Romo, the Cowboys aren’t even a .500 club. But go ahead, draft Manziel and stick him under center. That should change everything.

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