Pepsi Challenge time, part two.
Presented below are some rate stats for two well-known NFL quarterbacks. Both have more than a decade of NFL experience, and both played in the same quarterback-friendly era.
- Quarterback A: 65.30 completion %, 5.7 TD %, 2.68 INT %, 7.67 yards per attempt
- Quarterback B: 65.26 completion %, 5.7 TD %, 2.70 INT %, 7.89 yards per attempt
They are nearly identical in terms of the percentage of passes they completed, the number of touchdowns they threw per 100 passes, the number of interceptions they threw per 100 passes and yards per attempt. So does it surprise you to learn that Quarterback A is Tony Romo and Quarterback B is Peyton Manning?
CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin pointed out these numbers last week mostly to remind people that despite the way he’s often perceived nationally, Tony Romo is really, really good. Romo was limited to just five games the last two seasons because of injuries and the emergence of Dak Prescott in Dallas. Even so, it sounds like Broncos general manager John Elway covets Romo if/when the Cowboys end up releasing him. Signing Romo on a one-year deal in the $10-$12 million dollar range — which are the Broncos’ intentions, per Benjamin Allbright — is the smart move, and I’m not sure why people believe otherwise.
Few quarterbacks have been better than Romo since he became the Cowboys’ starter in 2006. Only Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Manning have thrown touchdowns at a greater rate than Romo in that time; only Russell Wilson and Rodgers have greater yards per attempt numbers in those 12 years; and only Drew Brees and Manning have been more accurate since ’06. Romo has been more than a good quarterback for the Cowboys — he’s been a great quarterback.
Signing him certainly comes with some risk. He’s dealt with a laundry list of injuries throughout his career. In the last two seasons alone, he’s broken his left collarbone twice and fractured a vertebra in his back. His age is also an issue. Romo turns 37 in April. The list of quarterbacks who’ve advanced to the Super Bowl at that age or older looks like this: Brady, Manning, Johnny Unitas, Kurt Warner, John Elway and Rich Gannon.
It’s fair to wonder if all those hits he’s absorbed and the aging process might have robbed him of a lot of what made him so good in the first place: his ability to extend plays.
But for $10 or $12 million, it’s a question worth finding out, isn’t it?
This Broncos team is built to win now. Denver has employed Football Outsiders’ top-ranked defense for two years in a row. It looks poised to again be one of the NFL’s best units in 2017. But nothing is certain in the rapidly changing world of professional football. Go for it while you can.
Romo gives the Broncos a dramatically better chance of getting back to the Super Bowl this season than Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch. The worst-case scenario is that the Broncos give him $14 million, and he gets injured early on or just has nothing left in the tank. Denver can then find out what it has in Lynch.
Elway is right not to overpay for Romo; he hasn’t reacted in the last few days as the Cowboys have tried to trade Romo, which means they’d receive assets back and get some other team to take on his massive $24.7 million cap hit this year. Elway is playing this the right way: Wait for the Cowboys to release Romo. Offer him a modest one-year deal in that $10 to $12 million range. Take a chance on one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks of the last decade.
Romo has been better than you probably believe he’s been. As long as you’re not mortgaging your future, why wouldn’t you want to find out if he’s got anything left?
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