Evaluating an NFL contract remains one of the more difficult and complex processes in sports today. But that never stops the court of public opinion from weighing in on the latest monstrous contract handed out to a star player.
Perhaps the biggest example of that phenomenon happened this week.
The Dallas Cowboys announced on Friday that they had come to an agreement with star quarterback Tony Romo on a six-year, $108 million extension with $55 million in guarantees. And as tends to happen with all things Cowboys and Romo, the Twittersphere and NFL fans across the nation went bananas with either white-hot rage or schadenfreudian glee.
Dallas signing Romo was a rather mundane happenstance. An extension was a mere formality for months, and all it took was the hammering of a few details to get things done. What caused the reaction was the deal's details, both in length and dollar amount.
Tony Romo 6 yr 55 million dollar extension. Wow really, with one playoff win. You got to be kidding me— Donovan McNabb (@donovanjmcnabb) March 29, 2013
McNabb was not alone in expressing his bewilderment. The deal has more guaranteed money than Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco's new contract with the Ravens and matches Drew Brees' deal for the second-most in NFL history. (Tom Brady's $57 million guarantee is the most in history.)
The commonality between the three quarterbacks who received those massive sums is a Super Bowl ring. Romo lacks even an NFC championship game appearance on his resume. As such, the overarching reaction was one of massive negativity.
Most chalked it up to yet another misstep of general manager/owner Jerry Jones, with Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post perhaps summing the reactions best:
So what would contract would Tony Romo had gotten if he had won, say, 2 playoff games?— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) March 30, 2013
Of course, what these opinions overwhelmingly lack is objectivity and long-term reasoning. It's easy to scoff at Romo's deal because of his playoff failures and late-game interceptions, but the only truly objective way to understand an NFL contract is by looking at the hard figures.
With that in mind, here is a complete breakdown of Romo's new contract. We will examine how it looks in each season and also look at what to expect from the deal.
All salary information and cap figures come courtesy of Spotrac.